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A History of 

Pullen Memorial Baptist Church 


Roger H. Crook 

Published by 

The History Committee 

Pullen Memorial Baptist Church 

Raleigh, N.C. 


This book was published by the History Committee 
of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in commemora- 
tion of the church's one hundredth anniversary. The 
publication of the book was made possible in part by 
the generous gifts of Bea Anderson and Nancy B. 

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 84-62984 


Copyright, 1985, by the Board of Trustees, 
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church 

Sparks Press, Raleigh 





Foreword 5 

Epilogue 7 

Chapter 1: Pullen and His Times 9 

Chapter 2: A Mission Church in a City Coming of Age 

(1894-1900) 15 

Chapter 3: A Traditional Church in an Era of Progress 

(1900-1920) 39 

Chapter 4: A Church with a New Mission in an Era of 

Boom and Bust (1920-1932) 66 

Chapter 5: A Church with a Conscience in an Era of Crisis 

(1933-1941) 89 

Chapter 6: An Ecumenical Church in an Era of Hostility 

(1942-1954) 110 

Chapter 7: A Prophetic Church in an Era of Revolution 

(1955-1972) 148 

Chapter 8: A Caring Church in an Era of Disintegration 

(1973-1984) 195 

Prologue 248 

Appendix: Statistical Table 249 


O may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold 
Fight as the saints who nobly fought of old, 
And win with them the victor's crown of gold. 



Pullen Memorial Baptist Church has been so busy making history 
that it has neglected keeping a complete record of what it has done. 
That may be too ingratiating a statement, for as a matter of fact most 
churches do not maintain good records. The problem of getting the 
facts of Pullen's early history, however, has been unusually difficult. 
The second building which the church occupied was destroyed by fire 
in 1921 and all records kept in the church at that time were burned. 
The records for the next ten years, however, have also been lost. Min- 
utes of the meetings of the Board of Deacons between 1931 and the 
present are fairly complete. Minutes of church conferences for all 
periods are extremely spotty. 

Pullen has always been a church that has made the news. The Bib- 
lical Recorder and the Raleigh News and Observer, therefore, have 
been invaluable sources of information about what has happened at 
Pullen. Without those two periodicals little information about the 
earliest years of the church would have been preserved. Material from 
these periodicals is documented within the text of the book, with BR 
referring to the Biblical Recorder and N&O referring to the News and 

Prentice Baker, who was baptized into Pullen Memorial Church on 
May 5, 1907, wrote a brief history of the church from its beginning 
through 1930. That history was never published but was circulated in 
mimeographed form. It preserved a great deal of information and 
relayed impressions that could not have been found in any other 

A special word of appreciation is due several persons. Alicia Hutch- 
eson, a student at Meredith College, designed the dust jacket. Nona 
Short, of the faculty of Meredith College, made the copy photograph 
of the Fayetteville Street Church building which appears on the dust 
jacket and on page 29 of the text, and the photograph of the present 
building of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church which appears on page 
136. Hilda Highfill did the painstaking work of preparing the statis- 
tical table found in the Appendix. Inez Ray has been helpful in pro- 
viding materials from the church archives and in finding many of the 
photographs. Mary Ruth Crook and William C. Harris have made 
helpful suggestions about the manuscript. Carolyn McGill, faculty 
secretary at Meredith College, has typed the manuscript. 


This narration of the history of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church 
begins with an epilogue, a word "spoken upon" what has gone 

The heritage of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church is a long and 
honorable Baptist tradition. From their beginnings as the radical 
wing of the Reformation, Baptists have stressed the grace of God in 
his dealings with people, the freedom of each person to respond to 
God's grace in his own way, and the responsibility of God's people to 
reach out into the world with the good news of God's love. 

Thomas Helwys, the leader of a little band of people who formed 
the first Baptist church on English soil, was the first person in Eng- 
land to call for absolute religious liberty. In A Short Declaration of 
the Mistery of Iniquity, published in 1612, he wrote: 

Our lord the king is but an earthly king, and he hath no authority as a 
king but in earthly causes, and if the king's people be obedient and true 
subjects, obeying all human laws made by the king, our lord the king 
can require no more; for men's religion to God is betwixt God and 
themselves; the king shall not answer for it, neither may the king be 
judge between God and man. Let them be heretics, Turks, Jews, or 
whatsoever, it appertains not to the earthly power to punish them in 
the least measure. 

On the flyleaf of the copy which he sent to King James I he wrote: 

Hear, O King, and despise not the counsel of the poor, and let their 
complaints come before thee. The king is a mortal man and not God: 
therefore hath no power over the immortal souls of his subjects, to 
make laws and ordinances for them, and to set spiritual Lords over 
them. If the king have authority to make spiritual Lords and laws, then 
he is an immortal God, and not a mortal man. O King, be not seduced 
by deceivers to sin against God whom thou oughtest to obey, nor 
against thy poor subjects who ought and will obey thee in all things 
with body, life and goods, or else let their lives be taken from the earth. 
God save the King. Spittlefield, near London. Tho. Helwys. 

Not many years later (1644) Roger Williams, who is credited with 
being the founder of the Baptist movement in the United States, and 
who is memoralized in one of the stained glass windows in the Pullen 
sanctuary, wrote in The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution: "Hence I 
affirm it lamentably to be against the Testimony of Christ Jesus, for 
the civil state to impose upon the souls of the people, a religion, a 
worship, a ministry, oaths (in religious and civil affairs), tithes, times, 

days, marryings and buryings in holy ground." Instead, he said, the 
state should give "free and absolute permission of conscience to all 
men in what is merely spiritual . . . and provide for the liberty of the 
magistrate's conscience also." As a minister of the gospel — not in 
good standing with the Massachusetts Bay authorities — he preached 
to the Naraganset Indians, having learned their language and having 
reduced it to writing. It was he alone who championed the cause of 
the Indians against the power of the King of England. 

Near the end of the eighteenth century William Carey, who is 
memoralized in another Pullen window, began a movement that was 
ultimately to involve Christians of all persuasions in a mission to the 
world. His controversial little book calling for the sending of mis- 
sionaries to the non-Christian world was entitled An Enquiry into the 
Obligation of Christians to Use Means for the Conversion of the Hea- 
then. In making his case for the support of missions he said: 

Many can do nothing but pray, and prayer is perhaps the only thing in 
which Christians of all denominations can cordially, and unreservedly 
unite; but in this we may all be one, and in this the strictest unanimity 
ought to prevail. Were the whole body thus animated by one soul, with 
what pleasure would Christians attend on all the duties of religion, and 
with what delight would their ministers attend on all the business of 
their calling. 

We must not be contented however with praying, without exerting our- 
selves in the use of means for the obtaining of those things we pray for. 
Were the children of light, but as wise in their generation as the chil- 
dren of this world, they would search every nerve to gain so glorious a 
prize, nor ever imagine that it was to be obtained in any other way. 

After a lengthy illustration drawn from the world of commerce, he 
concluded, "Let then every one in his station consider himself as 
bound to act with all his might, and in every possible way for God." 

Absolute freedom in one's response to the grace of God and a sense 
of responsibility for the world are hallmarks of the Baptist heritage. 
The story of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church is the story of a congre- 
gation that is both independent of and cooperative with other Chris- 
tians, that is both a worshipping community and a ministering fel- 
lowship, that is prepared for its future by an appreciation of its past. 

Chapter 1 
Pullen and His Times 

"John T. Pullen dies Suddenly," the Raleigh News and Observer 
announced in a front page article on May 2, 1912. The brief news 
report stated that Pullen had died "this morning at 2:05 o'clock at the 
residence of Mr. John W. Harden on Hillsboro street." Five days later, 
on Wednesday evening, May 7, 1913, the members of the Fayetteville 
Street Baptist Church honored their founder by voting unanimously 
to re-name their congregation "Pullen Memorial Baptist Church." 
For twenty-nine years Pullen had so closely identified himself with 
the work of Fayetteville Street Church that someone said of him, "he 
served God for a living and ran a bank to pay expenses." 

John Turner Pullen was born on December 1, 1852, the son of 
Nancy A. and James D. Pullen. He had two sisters. The older one, 
Anna, married Dr. L. W. Crawford, of New Bern. The younger, Lizzie 
Lee, married Charles Binton Belvin. Belvin eventually became presi- 
dent of the National Bank of Raleigh. 

While John Pullen was a small child, in the early 1860's, his par- 
ents managed the Planters Hotel, located on the corner of Wilming- 
ton and Martin streets in Raleigh. After that, until about 1876, they 
operated a boarding house in their home situated on the corner of 
McDowell and Hargett streets. In 1865 William Holden, the newly- 
appointed Provisional Governor of North Carolina, appointed James 
Pullen a court clerk in Wake County. He probably did not hold that 
position long, for Holden was defeated in the election of November, 

In 1876 James and Nancy Pullen, along with their son John, their 
two daughters, and their son-in-law Charles Belvin, took up residence 
in the home of Richard Stanhope Pullen, brother of James. The 
house was located at 213 East Edenton Street, property which in the 
early 1890's was acquired by the Baptists of North Carolina for the 

location of the Baptist Female University. Opened in 1899, that insti- 
tution ultimately became Meredith College. For a short time during 
the period in which the James Pullen family lived with Stanhope 
Pullen, John Pullen's mother was a housekeeper for Mrs. Octavius 
Coke. Apparently she was a live-in employee, for the Raleigh City 
Directory of 1880-1881 gave her address as that of the Cokes. The rest 
of the family, however were listed as living at the residence of Stan- 
hope Pullen. 

No records of John Pullen's formal education remain. He could 
have received good schooling in Raleigh, however, for public schools 
had been in operation since 1842, and a number of private schools 
were also open at the time. The fact that he went into banking sug- 
gests that he must have been well-taught. 

John Pullen grew up in an era of change. He was only nine years 
old when the Civil War broke out. He could not have been immune to 
the intense feelings of the time, even if he did not understand the 
political and economic and social currents. He must have heard peo- 
ple discussing Uncle Tom's Cabin, which was first published in the 
year that he was born. He surely sang "Dixie," which was composed 
in 1859. He may have been frightened by news of John Brown's raid 
on Harper's Ferry, also in 1859. He must have felt the electricity in the 
air when Lincoln was elected President, when South Carolina seceded 
from the Union, and when North Carolina eventually took the same 
course and joined the Confederacy. 

Raleigh's wartime activities created an atmosphere that affected 
everyone. Three major recruiting and training centers were located in 
or near Raleigh. A major military hospital was located in the city. 
Careful preparations were made for the defense of the city, though 
fortunately they were never called into service. After Raleigh's sur- 
render near the end of the war, it became a Union camp, with some 
60,000 soldiers based in and around the city. General Sherman spent 
some time in the city, using the Governor's recently-vacated home as 
his headquarters. He was there when the news of Lincoln's assasina- 
tion came, and it was he who kept control of the angry Union soldiers 
and kept them from resorting to new violence. 

Pullen was a teenager in the Reconstruction era. He might have 
been in the crowd that greeted President Andrew Johnson, a Raleigh 
native, on the occasion of his visit to the city in 1867. He surely was 
aware of the presence of Federal forces which remained in the city 
until 1876. He saw the black population of Raleigh double in size and 
reach the point that it even equaled the number of whites in Raleigh. 
He heard about the rise of such black self-help groups as the Union 
League, and he also heard about the growing strength of the Ku Klux 


If Pullen had any early interest in religion he was aware of division 
in the churches. During the early 19th century the question of the 
morality of slavery had been debated in the churches. Toward the 
middle of the century, however, opposition to slavery had almost dis- 
appeared from the south. Several major denominations split along 
regional lines. The Methodists divided in 1845, and so did the Bap- 
tists. A number of Presbyterian synods withdrew from the national 
organization in the 1850's and early 1860's. When war broke out the 
southern churches rallied to the support of the Confederate cause. 
This was true not only of those newly-formed denominations, but 
also of the Episcopal Church, which had not divided, and of the 
Lutheran churches, which had never united. After the war, feelings 
were so strong that there was no immediate movement toward a reun- 
ion of the denominations which had divided. As a teenager, therefore, 
John Pullen would have known only the southern variety of 

Pullen's entire business career was in the field of banking. His first 
job was with the State National Bank, an agency which had been 
organized in 1868. He remained with that institution until 1887, and 
was, therefore, with it at the time of the beginning of the church that 
ultimately was to bear his name. The bank with which he was longest 
associated, and which popularly came to be called "Mr. Pullen's 
Bank," was the Raleigh Savings Bank and Trust Company. It was 
chartered in 1885 and opened in 1887. Pullen was the cashier at the 
time of its opening, and in 1889 was elected president. Joseph C. 
Brown, president of the Citizens' National Bank when Pullen died, 
said that "it was under his guiding hand" that the bank became one 
of the leading institutions of the state. The term which was frequently 
used to describe Pullen's operation of the bank was "conservative." 
Brown said: 

In the management of the bank, Mr. Pullen was almost ultra conserv- 
ative, but he recognized that the people, and many of them of limited 
means, were trusting their money to the care of his bank because they 
felt that its management would be first of all safe; and nothing could 
ever cause him to vediate (sic) from that rule which he early marked out 
for himself — to seek safety for depositors first and profits for stock- 
holders afterwards. (N&O, 5/7/1913) 

Few details about John Pullen's early religious life are available. 
Both his father, who died in November, 1887, and his mother, who 
died in August, 1888, were buried with funeral services conducted by 
the pastor of Edenton Street Methodist Church. His mother's name 
appears in the church records beginning in 1882, but his father's 
name does not appear in them at all. His uncle Stanhope was a 
member of Edenton Street, having been converted in 1878, following a 


revival there in which Mrs. Mary Moon was the preacher. Edenton 
Street records report that Stanhope was baptized in May, 1879, and 
then received into the church. Hope Summerell Chamberlain, in her 
History of Wake County, reports that 

When Edenton Street Methodist Church was being built, he came and 
supervised the construction day by day, and saw all go right, but no one 
dared to ask, "How much are we to depend on you for, in paying for 
the new church?" After everybody had given all they could, and then 
stretched it a little further, Mr. Pullen placed a check in the collection 
plate which made him the largest contributor to the building fund. (pp. 

Records of the First Baptist Church do not reveal when John 
Pullen first became a member of that congregation. His involvement 
in the life of First Baptist, however, was not at first significant. In its 
monthly conference on Friday, August 5, 1881, the deacons were 
given a list of "those absent for three meetings" and instructed to 
remove from the list the names of people who had valid reasons for 
not attending. The rest were to be dealt with by the church. John T. 
Pullen was one of twenty-two men cited to appear before the confer- 
ence on September 2 to account for their absence. None of the men 
appeared. The deacons were instructed to continue to work with the 
absent brethren. On November 6, 1881, the church cited Pullen "to 
answer to the church for unchristianlike conduct toward the church 
in that he declined to conform to a rule of the church." 

What Pullen's "unchristianlike conduct" was is not specified in the 
records. At that time, the church was trying to "correct" its rolls, 
however, and similar action was taken against a large number of per- 
sons. In a few instances "drunkenness" was named as the offense for 
which a person was to be disciplined, and in one case "adultery" was 
cited. In Pullen's case, as in most others, nothing is stated beyond not 
conforming to "a rule of the church." His offense, therefore, may 
well have been nothing other than absence from the church meetings. 

There may have been more, however. In an article published in 
The State in 1934, Josiah Bailey described Pullen: 

He was as a young man living the worldly, self-indulgent life rather 
than the really bad life. He was a good fellow — the best field-shot in 
Raleigh, if not in the state, and one of the best at pool. The bar-room 
and the pool-room in his day were usually one — and the bar-room was 
his loafing place. He drank but was not a drunkard. He kept late hours, 
and coming home late, would find his mother on her knees praying for 
him. She loved him with a mother's love and would not give him up. 
(1/6/34, p. 2) 

According to Bailey, Dr. T. E. Skinner, pastor of the church, went to 
Pullen in the pool hall to inform him of the church's action. Admit- 
tedly Bailey's report, written more than fifty years after the event, may 
be embellished a bit. Human nature being what it is, Pullen himself 


may have romanticized the story as he told it to his friends. Neverthe- 
less, Bailey's report, the only one that we have, is true to the situation, 
if not accurate in every detail. Bailey wrote: 

He (Skinner) found him in a saloon playing pool, apprised him of the 
accusations, and urged him to attend the church conference that night. 
John, quick of temper and impatient of the minister's intrusion, 
retorted with an oath: "I am not going to be there — they can do as they 
please; I don't care." 

"Young man," replied the minister, "you do not know what this 
means. I cannot compel you to come. But all this day you will have on 
your mind what you have said, and tonight when the church bell rings, 
with every stroke you hear, remember what you have said — and you will 

John did remember. All day long he bitterly reproached himself. His 
pride urged him not to attend the conference. "I ought to be turned out 
of the church and I shall be — why should I go?" Upon the first stroke of 
the bell he was resolved not to move. But as the sound came again and 
again, he found himself on the way, and with the last stroke he entered 
the church door. 

When the accusations were presented he came forward, and with pro- 
found humility, confessed his wrongdoings, and declared that no one 
realized as keenly as he that he ought to be turned out. But, he added, 
he believed he could do better; that for years he knew his mother had 
been praying for (him) while he was indulging himself; that he hoped 
he might have a chance and it was for her he hoped not to be turned out 
of the church. 

The church readily responded. His name remained on the roll — he 
was given the chance. 

The minutes of the First Baptist Church conference on Friday, 
December 2, 1881, report: 

Bro John T. Pullen was present to answer to the charges preferred at 
the last conference meeting. He stated that he felt that he had done 
wrong in failing to comply with the rule of the church, but that he 
would try to do better in the future and hoped that the brethren would 
pray for him. 

John Pullen himself, in an unsigned tract written many years later 
for the benefit of mothers of wayward sons, wrote: 

Many a time I have buried my head in the pillow, and covered it up, to 
escape hearing the cries of that Godly woman as she poured out her 
complaint before Him. I did not know then what it all meant; but I 
know now, my precious mother, and I thank thee for every tear, and 
every sigh, and every groan thou didst make for me, thine only boy. 

This experience was a turning point for John Pullen. Bailey reports 
that on the next day he told his friends of his intention to live a 
Christian life. For him that meant the abandonment of a carefree atti- 
tude and of that way of life which Bailey characterized as "worldly" 
and "self-indulgent." So determined was he to be a different kind of 


man that he even gave away his shotgun and buried his shells! Imme- 
diately he became actively involved in the work of the First Baptist 
Church. Within months he was elected an usher, and shortly after 
that he was chairman of foreign missions for the church. Soon he was 
elected church clerk, a position he continued to hold until 1884, when 
he took up the mission work at the end of Fayetteville Street. 

When the Federal forces left Raleigh in 1876 John Pullen was 
twenty-three years old and was working for the State National Bank. 
For most people in the city the times were difficult but not depress- 
ing. Indeed, for the business world the future was hopeful. Thomas 
Briggs had opened his hardware store in 1865. The Royster brothers 
were operating a store selling candy which they themselves made. In 
1867 Alfred Williams began publishing school materials and supplies. 
In 1871 Needham B. Broughton and Cornelius Bryant Edwards 
started a publishing firm. The Tucker brothers had a thriving mer- 
cantile establishment in Raleigh. Dozens of other businesses, some of 
which still survive, were prospering. Although no major industry 
existed in the city, several small-scale manufacturers were thriving, 
particularly those engaged in producing farm implements. 

The fact that it was the state capital remained the major factor in 
the economic life of Raleigh. Not only government officials, but also 
visitors to the capital, were a boon to the merchants. While no figures 
on the number of visitors are available, the thriving hotel business 
testifies to its significance. The Yarborough House, situated on 
Fayetteville Street, was the largest and most famous of the hotels. In 
addition, however, there were numerous smaller inns, taverns, and 
rooming houses. 

John Pullen's Raleigh was a city in transition. The population had 
increased to just over nine thousand. The streets were unpaved and 
poorly lighted, but improvements were being planned. The city 
aldermen were trying to find ways of providing an adequate water 
supply for the growing population. Fire protection, limited by the 
insufficient water supply, was provided only by volunteer fire de- 
partments. Doctors and nurses were few in number and hospital facil- 
ities were almost non-existent. There were thirteen churches, eight 
white and five black. The fourteenth church, the one now called 
"Pullen Memorial Baptist Church," would come into being in 1884. 


Chapter 2 

A Mission Church 

In A City Coming of Age 


The nation was hardly tranquil in 1884, the year of the establish- 
ment of Raleigh's third Baptist church. Grover Cleveland had just 
been elected president of the United States, winning by one of the 
thinnest margins in the history of the nation. The contest with James 
Blaine had been bitter and filled with mud-slinging. It had been 
complicated by the activities of two minority parties. The one was the 
National Equal Rights Party, which ran Belva Lockwood for the 
presidency. The other was the Prohibitionist Party, which ran John 
St. John. While neither of these parties polled many votes, they were 
an important factor in the election because Cleveland's margin of vic- 
tory was so close. 

If things were bad in politics, however, they were booming in busi- 
ness and industry. The last quarter of the nineteenth century saw an 
unparalleled exploitation of the natural resources of the nation. New 
machinery was created for the mass production of goods: drills and 
saws and rock drills and typewriters and elevators and so on ad infini- 
tum. Factories were built in which masses of people working with 
machines increased productivity ten-fold, and even a hundred-fold. 
New cities came into being and older ones grew phenomenally. A 
rapidly expanding network of railroads crossed the country. It was the 
age of invention, the age of Thomas Alva Edison, of Alexander Gra- 
ham Bell, of George Eastman, of George Westinghouse. It was the era 


of burgeoning fortunes, with untold wealth being amassed by Andrew 
Carnegie, J. P. Morgan, Leland Stanford, Henry Clay Frick, John D. 
Rockefeller, Philip Armour, Gustavus Swift, Cadwallader C. Wash- 
burn, and Charles A. Pillsbury. 

The rapid and unplanned growth of cities created new problems: 
transportation, communication, sanitation, fire protection, police pro- 
tection, and the like all had to be dealt with by the city. The working 
conditions in most of the new plants were bad and wages were low. 
That fact gave rise to the labor movement, under the leadership of 
men like Charles Lichman, Uriah Stephens, and Samuel Gompers. 
The period was marked by strife, and often by violence, as the rela- 
tionship between management and labor increasingly became an 
adversarial one. Labor used the method of the strike, and manage- 
ment used the method of the lockout. Both sides engaged in threats, 
subterfuge, and violence — and the nation was torn. 

Although agriculture remained basic in the economy of the South, 
manufacturing began to play an increasingly significant part. Many 
new cotton mills were built, and the mill-town became a familiar 
landmark, especially in the upper South. Tobacco processing came to 
be a major industry, as did the processing of iron ore, the production 
of turpentine, and the production of lumber. Employment in those 
industries was available only to whites, a fact which contributed to 
the social problems of the South. In the textile and tobacco plants 
both men and women were employed — and young children as well. 
Working conditions were oppressive, the hours were long, and the 
pay was poor. Furthermore, the paternalistic pattern which developed 
in the southern mill villages was to continue well beyond the middle 
of the twentieth century. 

Politically the South was solidly in the Democratic fold. The 
Republican party was popularly associated with the Reconstruction 
era, and Republicanism was, therefore, anathema. The real political 
battles were fought out within the Democratic party, and the real 
electoral process took place in its primaries. Within the party the divi- 
sions were significant and candidates for leadership were abundant. 
For local elections, therefore, there was often real choice between 
candidates and positions. For national elections, however, there was 
no question about which party would get the southern vote. 

The rapid growth of a newly organized church in Raleigh was one 
expression of the evangelical fervor that swept the nation in the latter 
part of the nineteenth century. One significant manifestation of that 
zeal was the work of itinerant evangelistic preachers who traveled all 
over the nation, spending weeks at a time in one city, then moving on 
to another. Those evangelists were rarely identified by their denomi- 
national affiliation. Their meetings were not planned by the local 


churches, and were in fact quite independent of them. Yet most of the 
local churches supported the meetings and received new members as a 
result of them. The best known revivalist was Dwight L. Moody 
(1837-1899). Moody was a Congregational layman who worked for the 
YMCA in Chicago, and in fact began his evangelistic work through 
that agency. His first successful revival was held, not in this country, 
but in London in 1872. There he preached to thousands at once, and 
hundreds of conversions resulted from that meeting. Not a small part 
of his success was due to the help of his song leader, Ira D. Sankey. 
After the London success, Moody and Sankey conducted campaigns 
throughout the rest of Great Britain. When they returned to the Unit- 
ed States they had developed a system for preparing a city for their 
arrival, for the time that they would spend in that city, and for follow- 
up on the converts after they left. Employing that method they moved 
back and forth across the nation for more than twenty years, preach- 
ing to thousands at a time. Their methods were emulated by more 
than a score of other men who earned national reputations and by 
untold numbers of still others whose activities were restricted to a 
more local area. 

Another significant aspect of the religious life of the nation was the 
growth of separate black denominations. Even before the Civil War, 
in both North and South, there had been some separate black 
churches. After the Civil War, blacks in the South moved in large 
numbers into separate local churches and into separate black denom- 
inations. There were many independent black Baptist congregations 
in those years, bnt the first successful attempt to form a national 
organization of those churches occurred in 1895, with the formation 
of the National Baptist Convention. 

The years before the turn of the century were a period of great and 
growing interest in foreign missions. All major Protestant denomina- 
tions enlarged their overseas missionary force, particularly in Africa, 
China, and Japan. The Student Volunteer Movement for Foreign 
Missions came into being in 1888, capitalizing on the great enthusi- 
asm of college students for the cause of missions. The Student Volun- 
teer motto soon became famous: "the evangelization of the world in 
this generation." 

This era also saw the time of the growth of the Sunday school 
movement. Originating in England late in the eighteenth century, it 
spread rapidly in this country in the nineteenth century. The organi- 
zational meeting of the International Sunday School Association was 
held in 1875. At that meeting the concept of a uniform system of Bible 
study was debated, and soon afterward the Uniform Lesson Plan was 


Yet another feature of the religious scene was the temperance 
movement. That movement was pre-Civil War in its origin, but was 
interrupted by the war. The Prohibition Party was organized in 1869 
for the purpose of pushing the cause of temperance at the national 
level. In the last two decades of the nineteenth century it was quite 
active, and among other things fielded a presidential candidate in 
every election year. The Woman's Christian Temperance League was 
organized in 1874, under the leadership of Frances Willard, with the 
avowed purpose of pressing for teetotalism for the entire nation. The 
Anti-Saloon League was organized in 1895, drawing support from all 
evangelical churches, to press for a constitutional amendment to end 
the sale of intoxicating beverages. 

One other major factor on the religious scene during the last two 
decades of the nineteenth century was a theological ferment. The 
rapid expansion of knowledge in the realm of science, and the 
increasing pervasiveness of the scientific world view, was raising 
many questions of religious significance. Particularly important were 
Darwin's two major works, The Origin of the Species and The De- 
scent of Man, and his theories were to cause great controversy within 
the nation in general and the church in particular. Many religious 
leaders were open to the theological re-formulation necessitated by 
scientific developments. Logically, therefore, they were also open to 
the new approach to the study of the Bible which made use of the 
techniques of literary criticism and were involved in the formulation 
of the concepts of liberal theology. Most theological schools began to 
utilize the new approach in their teaching and in their practice. 

Many other religious leaders rejected out-of-pocket any scientific 
theory that raised questions about the traditional interpretation of the 
Bible and of religion. The literary-critical approach to the study of 
the Bible was anathema to them. A clash between this group and the 
liberals was inevitable. The division was severe in most of the major 
denominations, and a number of them had the bitter experience of 
heresy trials. The Southern Presbyterians ousted James Woodrow 
from the faculty of Columbia Seminary in 1886, and in 1893 the 
Northern Presbyterians suspended C. A. Briggs, president of Union 
Theological Seminary in New York, from its ministry. The Southern 
Methodists dismissed Alexander Winchell from the faculty of Van- 
derbilt University in 1878. In 1879 C. H. Toy was forced to resign 
from the faculty of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and 
in 1898 W. H. Whitsett was forced to resign from the presidency of 
that same institution. 

In that same period of reaction against the new learning certain 
new fundamentalistic movements came into being. The Jehovah's 
Witnesses were organized in 1874, the Christian and the Missionary 


Alliance in 1877, the Churches of God in 1881, and the Church of the 
Nazarene in 1895. The Salvation Army, a theologically conservative 
evangelical and social activist group, was established in London in 
1878 and reached the United States in 1880. 

A development of major importance to the Southern Baptist Con- 
vention was the formation of the Woman's Missionary Union. The 
status of women in the Baptist churches was in a stage of ferment. In 
some local churches the women were organizing for the support of 
missions. In 1877, for the first time, a woman was recognized as a 
messenger from a local church to the Convention. For a number of 
years many women had been meeting for the support of missions 
while their husbands were serving as messengers to the Convention. 
From time to time they sought recognition as a Convention agency, 
but always failed to receive it. In 1884, however, at a meeting held in 
the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Baltimore, the women de- 
cided to make their organization a permanent one which would meet 
while the sessions of the Southern Baptist Convention were being 
held. In 1888 the organization was officially recognized by the South- 
ern Baptist Convention. 

Like the rest of the South, Raleigh experienced great changes in the 
last two decades of the nineteenth century. The streets were being 
paved, with work progressing on Fayetteville Street at the rate of 
about one block a year. Street lighting was being improved, and the 
system of horse-drawn street cars was being expanded. The first tele- 
phone exchange was opened in 1882. A more adequate water supply 
was provided, and fire protection became more of a reality. Rex Hos- 
pital was opened in May, 1894, and St. Agnes Hospital was opened 
two years later to serve the black population. 

Efforts were being made to bring to Raleigh a share of the indus- 
trial and business growth of the region. A Chamber of Commerce was 
established in 1888, and it engaged in the kind of "industry hunting" 
which is familiar to us today. Its chief success was in bringing cotton 
manufacturing to town: Raleigh Cotton Mill was opened in 1890, on 
what is now Downtown Boulevard; Caraleigh Cotton Mill was 
opened in 1892, and Pilot Mill was opened in 1893. Other small 
industries were also brought in, and the banking business was ex- 
panded. In 1887 Stanhope Pullen donated to the city sixty acres of 
land to be used for a public park, in the event that it was not needed 
for a new major industry. Fortunately for the city, the industry did 
not materialize, even though a new street car line made it much more 
accessible to the city. 

Education was a major concern in the city of Raleigh. In 1885, less 
than a year after the establishment of Fayetteville Street Baptist 
Church, Edward P. Moses came to Raleigh to serve as superintendent 


of the school system. His work was to be one of the major contribu- 
tions to the expanding public school system. The need for a better 
school system throughout the state was documented by the finding of 
the 1900 census that North Carolina had the highest illiteracy rate in 
the nation! 

Provision for higher education was in the air as well. In 1883, just 
months before Pullen began his mission at the end of Fayetteville 
Street, people on the other end were talking about the establishment 
of an agricultural and technical college in Raleigh. Walter Hines 
Page and L. L. Polk and others formed in that year the "Watauga 
Club," which pushed for the establishment of a school. Two years 
later the General Assembly voted to establish such an institution "in a 
city that would donate land and contribute to construction costs." 
Raleigh won out, holding out a number of enticements including a 
gift of eight and a half acres of land from Stanhope Pullen. Classes in 
the new institute were begun in October, 1889. 

In 1889 also the Baptists of North Carolina decided to establish a 
"Baptist Female Seminary,." Raleigh outbid other cities for that insti- 
tution, and the "Baptist Female University," later renamed "Meredith 
College," was opened in 1899. It was housed in a new building on the 
corner of Blount and Edenton streets on land that had been owned by 
Stanhope Pullen. The financial agent for the Baptists who raised 
funds for the school was O. L. Stringfield, who was to be one of the 
early pastors of Pullen Memorial Church. 

Raleigh was a "Baptist town" in the 1880's and 1890's. According 
to James Vickers: "In 1887, out of a total church membership of 3,590, 
the Baptists led with 2,005." First Baptist Church was the oldest and 
largest Baptist church in the city. Known first as "The Raleigh Bap- 
tist Church," it had been established in 1812, and from its beginning 
it had both white and black members. A group of some two hundred 
blacks had separated from this church in 1868 and formed an inde- 
pendent congregation now known as "The First Baptist Church, 
Wilmington and Morgan Street." 

A second white Baptist church had developed from a mission estab- 
lished by First Baptist in 1874. It was located on Swain Street, and for 
a time was called "Swain Street Baptist Church." Beginning with ten 
charter members, it grew rapidly. In 1881 the congregation moved 
into a new building on the corner of Hargett and Person streets and 
changed its name to "Tabernacle Baptist Church." The new building 
had a seating capacity of 600, and for several years following the 
move, from 50 to 75 persons annually were added to the church rolls. 

At the time of the organization of the new mission on Fayetteville 
Street, the Reverend T. E. Skinner was the pastor of First Baptist 
Church. In addition to being an able administrator, Skinner was a 


popular preacher. Most of his sermons were evangelistic ones, and he 
was much in demand for preaching in other places. In 1884, however, 
the membership of First Baptist apparently had stabilized. The 
church's letter to the Raleigh Association in August, 1884, reported 
four baptisms for the year, four received by letter, one restored, three 
excluded, and seven died. The total membership that year was 536, of 
whom 190 were males and 346 females. It is interesting to note that 
although the female members outnumbered the males by almost two 
to one, First Baptist, like other churches of the era, was male- 
dominated. Only males were allowed to hold office and to participate 
in the decision-making process in the church conferences. 

The minutes of the First Baptist Church for the early 1880's reflect a 
great concern for enforcing attendance at the church conferences. The 
roll was checked, and persons not attending were contacted and called 
upon to give reasons for their absence. The deacons decided whether 
their explanations were satisfactory. If their reasons were not valid, 
the absentees were cited to appear before the church for explanation. 
The records frequently report that fellowship was withdrawn from 
persons for non-attendance. Upon occasion, members were dismissed 
for other reasons as well, such as drunkenness or joining a church of 
another denomination. Sometimes persons who had been excluded 
were restored to fellowship when they asked for such action and 
promised to be more faithful members. Frequent efforts were made to 
"correct" the church roll by getting absentee members to ask for their 
letters, or to report to the church at least once a year and to make 
contributions for the support of the church. 

The initiative for the establishment of a mission at the south end of 
Fayetteville Street came from John Pullen. Pullen had fulfilled his 
promise made to the church on December 2, 1881, that "he would try 
to do better in the future." He became such a respected member that 
on September 29, 1882, he was elected an usher in the church. On May 
5, 1883, he was elected Chairman of the Committee on Foreign Mis- 
sions. Two months later he began keeping the minutes for the church 
conferences, and on January 4, 1884, was elected clerk by acclamation. 

The first mention of the mission on Fayetteville Street appears in 
the minutes of the First Baptist Church for May 2, 1884: 

Bro. Jonathan Womble Jr. sent forward the following resolution which 
was adopted. The Church having heard of the efforts of Bro. John T. 
Pullen to collect funds and purchase a lot and erect thereon a building 
for a mission station, hereby approve and endorse his actions and 
recommend that Brethren W. N. Jones and Eugene Harold be appointed 
with Bro. Pullen as chairman, to cooperate with him in securing the 
lot and raise funds for the same and for the erection of the building. 


The committee reported "progress" on May 30, 1884. On Sunday, 
June 8, the pastor called the church into conference to "consider the 
propriety of taking up a collection for the Mission House." The 
church decided that it was a proper thing to do, and after the service a 
collection was taken amounting to "something over $27.00." 

On August 1, 1884, according to the minutes, "Bro Pullen reported 
progress on Mission House. Bro Harris Vaugh at his own request was 
appointed a committee of one to raise $50 to pay for the Mission 
House lot." In that same conference 

The following resolution offered by Bro. J. T. Pullen was carried. Re- 
solved, that this church extend to any of the members of the Second 
Church a most cordial invitation to participate and take an active part 
in any of the services that may be held at the Mission House located on 
South Fayetteville Street. 

On October 31, 1884, in church conference 

Bro John T. Pullen stated that it was very probable that a Third Bap- 
tist Church would be organized soon, and that he wished to get the 
approbation of this Church in the movement, whereupon the Church 
heartily approved of the movement. A collection amounting to nearly 
$40.00 was taken up to aid in procuring a deed for the ground on 
which the Mission House is located. 

On December 17, 1884, the Biblical Recorder reported that 

The third Baptist Church in Raleigh is an established fact. A number 
of the most active and useful members of the First and Second churches 
have taken letters and will be organized into a church at an early day. 
The church is located on the old Palace grounds near the buildings of 
the Centennial Graded School. 

The minutes of the First Baptist Church for December 28, 1884, 
indicate that 

On Sunday evening, Dec. 28, 1884 the Fayetteville Street Baptist Church 
was organized. This Church is located on Fayetteville Street in the 
Southern Portion of the city. Rev. T. E. Skinner, C. T. Bailey and 
Alvin Betts constituted the presbytery. Thomas W. Blake and J. T. 
Pullen were made deacons. Trust in God and do its duty is inscribed 
upon the banner of this little church. 

In the church records these minutes are followed by a report of a 
meeting on December 5, a little more than three weeks earlier, in 
which letters of "dismission" were granted to "J. T. Pullen, Peter 
Francis and his wife Mrs. Peter Francis and Annie Francis to join the 
3rd Baptist Church of this city." 

From time to time in 1885 other persons from First Baptist united 
with Fayetteville Street Church. On July 3, 1885, a letter was granted 
for C. T. Bailey, who had been a member of the organizing presby- 
tery, to join the new congregation. Bailey was a,t the time owner and 
editor of the Biblical Recorder, which he had purchased in 1875 and 


which he continued to publish until 1895. He had studied at William 
and Mary and at Richmond College, had served for a short time in the 
Confederate army, and after the war had come to North Carolina as a 
teacher and a minister. He served at various times as trustee of Wake 
Forest College and of Shaw University. He was president of the Bap- 
tist State Convention of North Carolina in 1885-86, and was, there- 
fore, a member of Fayetteville Street while he held that office. 

On September 4, 1885, First Baptist granted a letter for Sallie Bai- 
ley, daughter of C. T. Bailey, to join Fayetteville Street. She was 
seventeen years of age at the time, and had attended school at the 
Peace Institute in Raleigh and at the Richmond Female Institute in 
Richmond, Virginia. Her move to a mission church was entirely in 
keeping with what proved to be a life-long interest in missions. In 
January, 1886, only three months after she joined Fayetteville Street 
and a few days before her eighteenth birthday, she accepted the posi- 
tion of corresponding secretary and treasurer of the Woman's Central 
Committee of Missions of North Carolina, the organization which 
was to become the Woman's Missionary Union of North Carolina. 
She served as treasurer of the Woman's Missionary Union from 1900 
until 1916, and president from 1916 until 1936. She was vice-president 
of the Southern Baptist Woman's Missionary Union from 1916 until 
1938. She did not remain permanently in The Fayetteville Street 
Church. At the age of nineteen she married Wesley Norwood Jones, a 
leading member at First Baptist Church. She probably returned to 
First Baptist at that time. 

The site of the new church was a spot known as "the Fayetteville 
Street Crossing." It was located in an area of the city occupied by 
working-class people. While the other churches of Raleigh would not 
have admitted that they were "class" congregations, few people from 
that area were in any of them. Pullen intended this church to evangel- 
ize a group who were not being reached by anyone else. At the time of 
his death the editor of the Biblical Recorder wrote of him and of 
Fayetteville Street: "He was at the heart of it, and all the poor felt at 
home there in a degree that they would not feel in any other. . . . They 
could be neither pitied nor patronized there." At the time of the 
building of the church, the Centennial Graded School occupied the 
property of the old Governor's Palace, where Memorial Auditorium 
now stands. The "crossing" where the church was built was just 
behind that spot. The new building was a frame structure approxi- 
mately forty-five feet by seventy feet, with two small rooms in the rear. 
Across the front was a sign, in large letters, "Prepare to Meet Thy 


The character of the church as a mission in an underprivileged area 
is evidenced by a report that appeared in the News and Observer on 
December 28, 1884: 

At the Baptist mission chapel, lower Fayetteville Street, the first Christ- 
mas tree in that part of the city gave the children great delight. That 
kindly gentleman, Mr. John Pullen, was in charge. The room was 
tastefully decorated and was so full of people that there was no room 
for even one more. After giving everybody every thing they wanted, Mr. 
Pullen said he had two barrels of flour left, which he would distribute 
among the poor. This church is only a few months old. 

Records of the early years of the church have been lost — if, indeed, 
they were ever kept. There were only five members at the time of its 
organization, and its ministry was viewed primarily in terms of evan- 
gelism. That emphasis characterized the church throughout this 
entire period. The "Personal and Other Items" column in the Bibli- 
cal Recorder carried frequent references to the work of all three Bap- 
tist churches in Raleigh. The first note about the work of Fayetteville 
Street Church was an announcement on February 14, 1885, less than 
two months after the organization of the church, of a "series of meet- 
ings" held by Rev. F. M. Jordan. In December, 1885, there was 
another meeting, with Jordan again doing the preaching. According 
to the Biblical Recorder, "Bro. Jordan has done some of his best 
preaching. There have been so far nine professions — principally 
among the adults. The meeting still continues. Bro. Jordan left for 
home on Monday." (BR, 12/23/85) For weeks afterward that meeting 
continued, even without a preacher. On January 6, 1886, the Biblical 
Recorder reported: "The meeting at the Third church still goes on. 
There have been twenty professions of faith. The only services held 
are singing, reading the word, prayer and a short exhortation from 
some brother." Thereafter the Recorder made almost weekly reports, 
and on February 24 announced that the meeting "has resulted so far 
in over seventy conversions. Thirty have united with that church and 
several have joined the other churches." The last reference to this 
particular meeting is dated March 3, 1886. 

C.A.G. Thomas became pastor of the church in January, 1887, and 
began almost immediately a series of meetings which lasted for more 
than a month. The Recorder reported twenty-two professions, with 
seven new members being baptized. In the fall of the year, after Thom- 
as had left the church, there was another "protracted meeting." The 
Recorder reported on September 28 that it had "been going on at this 
church for three weeks, although the church was without a pastor at 
the time, conducted by the lay members, with occasional ministerial 


S. H. Thompson became pastor on February 25, 1888, and almost 
immediately began a meeting. This one apparently started without a 
great deal of planning. On April 18, 1888, the Recorder, reporting on 
the activity in the Raleigh churches on the previous Sunday, said that 
"The Churches in Raleigh on Sunday were crowded with deeply 
interested congregations." Then, following brief statements about 
First Church and Tabernacle, the article added: 

The interest at the Fayetteville Street church, has been so great that 
pastor Thompson preached every night during the past week, and will 
continue to do so during the present week. Twelve have professed faith 
and about thirty others are penitently seeking salvation. The church is 
greatly revived and a great work is in progress. 

That meeting lasted for another two weeks. 

The January 8, 1890, issue of the Recorder reported that 

Rev. O. L. Stringfield of Wakefield, spent last week in a series of meet- 
ings with the Fayetteville Street church, Raleigh. The meetings were 
largely attended, and ten or more persons professed faith in the Redeem- 
er. He baptized seven on Sunday night and received four others by 

Jonathan Wood became pastor of the church in July, 1891, and, 
following the pattern of previous pastors, almost immediately began a 
series of meetings. He was aided in that series by the Reverend J. F. 
Long, of London. That meeting must not have reached any signifi- 
cant number of people, since the Recorder's only comment (10/7/91) 
is that it "continues with much interest." In April of 1892, however, 
Wood was assisted in a meeting by O. L. Stringfield. About that revi- 
val the Recorder commented: "Several persons have professed conver- 
sion. On last Sunday night they had a very precious meeting." 
(4/20/92) How long that meeting lasted is unknown, but a note in the 
May 4 issue of the Recorder stated that the meeting "continues with 
good interest." 

In May, 1893, during one of those periods when the congregation 
had no pastor, Stringfield preached in another revival at Fayetteville 
Street Church. On May 31, the Recorder noted that "On Sunday 
morning last three persons were received into the Fayetteville Street 
Baptist church, Raleigh, by experience. Ten were baptized, and others 
are awaiting the ordinance." The next week five more were received 
"by experience." The next week four others in the same way, and 
twelve were baptized. In November, 1893, Stringfield accepted the pas- 
torate of the church. Even though he was the best-known evangelist 
in the state, and even though he had led in revival services in Fayette- 
ville Street Church, Stringfield had a visiting evangelist preach in a 
series of meetings in April, 1894. In the fall of the year, however, he 
conducted another meeting himself, with the help of John Pullen. 


In January, 1895, the Baptists of Raleigh employed the Reverend A. 
D. Hunter as "city missionary." The Fayetteville Street Church was 
without a pastor, Stringfield having resigned in December, 1894, and 
Hunter played a significant part in the continuation of the revival 
spirit throughout the period. He preached in the church often in 1895 
and 1896, and on a number of occasions conducted baptismal services. 
The Recorder reported on May 1, 1895: 

A great work for the Lord has been wrought in the Raleigh Fayetteville 
Street Church and our out-stations since the beginning of the year. 
There has been a gracious revival in South Raleigh, many conversions 
being made. Pastor and missionary Hunter, Brethren Pullen, Blake, 
and others have been active in this quiet but faithful work. 

The next issue of the Recorder reported the fourth week of the revival, 
and on June 5 it announced: 

Fayetteville Street Baptist church closed its meeting last week, and on 
Sunday night last, Rev. A. D. Hunter baptized five. This is forty-one 
recently baptized into this church, three of whom were old men, one in 
seventieth year. Others have joined by letter. Bro. Hunter says he is glad 
to work with such helpers as Bro. John T. Pullen and those who labor 
with him. Many of those who attended this meeting also attended the 
meeting at Caraleigh Mills. 

It would be a mistake, however, to assume that evangelism was 
limited to those periods when a revival meeting was in progress. 
Almost every Sunday people responded in some way to the preacher's 
invitation. Often persons came forward as "inquirers." Frequently 
people would come forward to move their membership to the church. 
But the most frequent responses were professions of faith, and hardly 
a week went by without someone being accepted as a candidate for 
baptism. The church conceived of its mission as essentially one of 

In addition to the evangelistic work that centered in the church, 
there was a variety of other activities. In August, 1888, open air evan- 
gelistic services were held on Sunday afternoons in the southeastern 
part of the city. One reference was made to "the brush arbor" where 
services were held, and another to "some manifestation of religious 
concern by the impenitent of the congregation." These statements are 
found in paragraphs on activities of the Raleigh churches, and follow 
immediately on reports on the Fayetteville Street Church. 

Beginning in mid- 1894 and continuing for many years, John 
Pullen and Fayetteville Street Church were involved in a mission at 
Caraleigh Mills. Caraleigh Cotton Mill had begun operation in 1892, 
and, following the pattern of such industrial development, a mill 
community had grown up around it. Just about the time that the 
Fayetteville Street Church completed payment for its own new build- 
ing, "Brother Pullen . . . commenced the erection of a mission station 


at Caraleigh Mills." (BR, 5/10/94) As has already been noted, in Jan- 
uary, 1895, the Reverend A. D. Hunter was employed by the Baptists 
of Raleigh as city missionary. A report on a general meeting dealing 
with the city mission work, held in early January, included the state- 
ment that "The Caraleigh work is going on well. The chapel is ready 
for occupancy." It also noted that Pullen was one of the speakers. 
(BR, 1/9/95) Three months later the Recorder reported: 

There have been seventeen professions at Caraleigh Mills, and the 
meeting is still in progress. The converts are mostly grown people. Last 
Sunday afternoon and night four men from twenty-two to sixty years of 
age claimed a hope. Rev. A. D. Hunter is being helped in the work by 
Bro. John T. Pullen and the members of Fayetteville Street Church, 
which is a live, active church. (4/10/95) 

A further remarkable development was reported in the Recorder on 
May 19, 1897: 

The Fayetteville Street Baptist Church of this city has employed a 
teacher and established a night school at the mission at Caraleigh Mills 
for the benefit of any of the operatives who desire to attend. A good 
many are now in attendance upon the school. 

The judgment of the editor of the Biblical Recorder that Fayette- 
ville Street Church was "a live, active church" was quite correct. It 
had been organized on December 28, 1884, with five members. When 
it was accepted into the Raleigh Baptist Association, on October 19, 
1886, it reported a membership of 69. Of that number, eight had 
joined by letter after the organization of the church, and fifty-six had 
been baptized into the church. Services were held both Sunday morn- 
ing and Sunday night, as a rule, although at times there were night 
services only. Normally there was also a Wednesday evening prayer 
meeting. Two or more revivals were conducted each year, and they 
often lasted for several weeks. The congregation grew rapidly, and by 
early 1894 the membership of the church was 113. At the end of the 
century it had passed the 200 mark. 

The Sunday school program was a vital part of the church during 
this period. John Pullen was superintendent from the beginning. 
Within a year after the establishment of the church more than 200 
persons were members of the Sunday school. Again, there is no clue as 
to the content of the program, but it is highly likely that it was a 
Bible study, with a strong evangelistic flavor. The International Uni- 
form Lesson system had just been formulated, and it is possible that 
that plan was being followed. On October 13, 1897, the Biblical 
Recorder reported: 

The Sunday school raised fifty dollars last Sunday for missions and the 
Orphanage. Two little girls for two weeks arose early each morning 
and worked hard picking peas and bringing water, and thus earned a 
dollar each and put it in the collection. 


The rapid growth of the church, and of its Sunday school, soon 
made the original building seem inadequate. The Biblical Recorder 
announced on January 4, 1888, the decision of the church "to com- 
mence work on their new building next March and to complete it 
during the year." The plan to move apparently was a bit premature, 
however, for the total membership of the church at that time was still 
quite small. In addition, the pastor, S. H. Thompson, resigned about 
mid-year, and for the next eighteen months the church was without a 
minister. When a new one came, he remained for slightly less than a 
year, and his successor for only a year. Furthermore, the church was 
struggling financially; in 1888 the total offerings were only $532.26, 
and $400.00 of that was promised the pastor as his salary. There is no 
record that the church decided to delay the move, but there was no 
further reference to moving until 1890. On March 26, 1890, the 
Recorder reported that "The church has arranged to move higher up 
on Fayetteville Street." Again on June 4 the Recorder referred to the 
decision, saying that "The Fayetteville Street Baptist Church of 
Raleigh have arranged to build a new house of worship, and have 
secured a most eligible lot for the purpose." That lot was about two 
blocks north of the original location, on the corner of Fayetteville 
and South streets. 

At long last, construction of the new building was begun in 1892, 
with most of the work being done by the members of the congrega- 
tion. The church was without a pastor while the work was going on, 
and John Pullen did the preaching. What might have gone into the 
pastor's salary, therefore, was used to help pay for the building. At the 
end of 1893 the Biblical Recorder reported: 

The new house of worship of the Fayetteville Street Baptist church, 
Raleigh, approaches completion. The seats are now being placed in 
position, and the house will in the near future be ready for occupancy. 
The Lord has greatly blessed the efforts of this band of brethren. Nearly 
all of their membership has been gathered by conversions in their own 
meetings, and they have more than a hundred on their list of members. 
(Dec. 13, 1893) 

A service of dedication of the new structure was held on Sunday, 
January 28, 1894. According to the Biblical Recorder: 

On Dec. 28th, 1884, the Fayetteville Street church, Raleigh, was organ- 
ized. This result grew out of years of labor in prayer meetings, Sunday 
school work, visiting and helping the poor, Sec. A site was purchased 
from the State during the administration of Gov. Jarvis and a mission 
house erected thereon at the lower terminus of Fayetteville Street. 
Brethren Jno. T. Pullen, Sylvester Betts, T. W. Blake and others were 
prominent in the labors of that section of the city. After the church was 
organized, God blessed the work and many have been added to the 
membership. The house was enlarged; but the Master has so constantly 




blessed the labors of this flock, that the building became inadequate for 
its purpose. A more eligible site at the corner of Fayetteville and South 
streets was secured, and a larger, handsomer and more convenient edi- 
fice has just been erected. The old house will be sold to colored people. 
On Sunday 1st the new church edifice was dedicated to the service of 
God. By special request, Rev. C. A. Jenkens, the eloquent Goldsboro 
pastor, preached the dedicatory sermon. His subject was "God's Supreme 
Command of Love," and he treated it in a style that was at once broad, 
clear and convincing. His remarks with especial reference to the new 
house were very well taken. After the sermon, Dr. Carter, Bro. Simms, 
Bro. Stringfield, the pastor, and Bro. Pullen, who has labored so faith- 
fully in this field, made short talks. They were all timely and forceful. 
Bro. N. B. Broughton made a "collection talk," and about $275 was 
raised to help pay the indebtedness of the church. The new church 
building is indeed an honor to the taste and judgment of its builders; is 
neat, well-arranged and roomy. It is situated in a location to do much 
toward bringing souls to Jesus, and the church has within it some of 
the best workers we know of. The attendance at the service was very 
large. Brethren Cobb, Carter, Betts, Simms, Stringfield and Hunter 
were on the pulpit. (BR, 1/31/94) 

By May, 1894, the cost of the building had been paid completely, a 
sum amounting to $3,500. A small amount, however, was still owed 
on the lot. (BR, 5/10/94) Three years later an "infant class room" was 
added, at a cost of $600, and an "elegant church bell weighing about 
1,000 pounds" was installed. 

From the outset it was clear to everyone that the real leader of the 
Fayetteville Street church was John T. Pullen. Years later, Mrs. Ber- 
nice Stringfield McKay, daughter of O. L. Stringfield, recalled: "Mr. 
John T. Pullen had a church and a parsonage. What a wonder he 
was. He was a rich man living just this side of Meredith. He was a 
bachelor and loved church. He told Papa to come to his church as 
pastor, with a parsonage for us, at the end of Fayetteville Street. The 
church was Pullen Memorial." If Mrs. McKay's memory about the 
parsonage is correct, this is the only information we have that the 
church (or John Pullen) owned one. But she apparently had a clear 
perception of the relationship of Pullen to the church. The new 
church had no pastor until 1886, and Pullen did most of the preach- 
ing for the congregation until that time. He was superintendent of the 
Sunday school from the beginning until his death in 1913. He was 
church clerk from 1893 through 1897. In the years when the church 
had no pastor (1889, 1892, 1893, 1895, 1896), he did the preaching. 
Without raising any question about Pullen's devotion or the effec- 
tiveness of his work, one might wonder whether his forcefulness and 
his prominence might help account for the short tenure of most of the 
pastors in those early years. 


John Turner Pullen 


Throughout his life Pullen was an evangelist. One of his earliest 
kinds of evangelistic activity was the distribution of literature aimed 
at conversion. In 1888 he notified the Recorder that he would send 
"80 nice chromo cards with Scripture texts thereon, free to any 
address; provided said person will distribute them to the uncon- 
verted." (5/23/88) From time to time thereafter he had similar notices 
published in the Recorder. One Sunday in July, 1894, he preached in 
the First Baptist Church of Raleigh on the subject, "Personal work 
for Christ" (BR, 7/11/94). On September 21, 1898, the Recorder 
printed in full an address by that same title. Commenting on it, the 
editor said: 

We never printed better reading than that you will find in the address 
on Personal Work, by John T. Pullen. It is long, but you will treat 
yourself badly if you do not read every word carefully. We believe every 
paper in the land could print it wisely for the upbuilding of the cause 
of Christ. The address becomes a wonder when, in view of the Scripture 
quotations, the reader is told that not one word of it was written. 
Brother Pullen speaks off-hand. Miss Carrie McLean, who has so 
admirably performed similar service for us, took the address in short- 
hand, and Bro. Pullen was as surprised as he could be when he saw 
how his talk appeared in written words. What an incentive to self- 
education it is that Brother Pullen has become able to make such a 
speech, not by aid of school or college, but by devout study of the Bible. 
Neither Moody nor Spurgeon ever made a better speech than this one. 
Read it; keep it; live it. 

For some ten years after the establishment of Fayetteville Street 
Church, Pullen's preaching was done chiefly at that church. Begin- 
ning in 1895, however, he was in some demand for preaching in reviv- 
als in other churches. Bear in mind the fact that that was an era of 
revivalism. In the editorial just quoted, the names of "Moody" and 
"Spurgeon" were assumed to be so well-known to the readers of the 
Recorder that the comparison would be immediately appreciated. 
The Recorder for August 21, 1895, reported that "Bro. John T. Pullen 
of Raleigh has been aiding Pastor Jonathan Wood in a good meeting 
at Bryson City." Wood knew Pullen well because he had been pastor 
of Fayetteville Street Church in 1891. In November of 1895 Pullen 
preached in a revival at Littleton. (BR, 11/13/95) In February, 1896, 
he preached in a series of services at Fayetteville Street. (BR, 2/2/96) 
In April of 1896 he and the Reverend A. L. Betts, a former pastor of 
Fayetteville Street, were in services in Reidsville. (BR, 4/15/96) In 
June of the same year he held services at East Durham Church in 
which, according to the pastor, there were twenty-six "professions of 
religion, and twenty were baptized Sunday night." (BR, 6/10/96) The 
June 16, 1897, issue of the Recorder carried a note from the Reverend 
W. A. Smith: 


Our meeting at West Durham Baptist Church closed June 1st. It con- 
tinued about three weeks. Bro. John T. Pullen, of Raleigh, was with us 
two weeks, and did some of the purest gospel preaching it has ever been 
my privilege to hear. He relates no ghost stories nor death-bed scenes, 
but preached the Gospel, believing it to be the power of God unto 
salvation to all them that believe. About thirty-five professed faith in 
Christ, and eighteen have already been received for baptism; others, I 
think, will join. Brother Pullen holds a warm place in the hearts of our 
West Durham people, and we hope he will come again. In our hearts, 
we thank God for sending him among us, and for His blessings upon 
us in the meeting just closed. 

In March, 1898, Pullen preached in Baymore, New Jersey. (BR, 

One of the periods during which Pullen did most of the preaching 
at Fayetteville Street Church was the years 1895-96. For about five 
months in 1896 the Biblical Recorder carried brief notes on a number 
of his messages. From those notes, and from the verbatim report of his 
address on "Personal Work" (BR, 9/21/98), we can get an understand- 
ing of the kind of preaching he did. His sermons were basically 
expository, explaining and illustrating selected passages of scripture. 
They were full of biblical quotations, allusions, and examples drawn 
from all portions of the Bible. Clearly the man spent a great deal of 
time studying the Bible, because he ranged over both the Old Testa- 
ment and the New for quotations and citations. The religion which 
he proclaimed was intensely personal, stressing one's individual rela- 
tionship to God and one's duties to God. While he proclaimed salva- 
tion by grace, there can be no doubt that for him the evidence of that 
salvation was a rather rigid standard of personal mortality and a 
commitment to doing good deeds. The messages were always clim- 
axed with an invitation to Christian commitment. Pullen always 
preached as if at least some of the congregation were sinners who 
needed conversion. 

Long after the death of John Pullen, Charles Hinton Belvin III, his 
nephew, wrote that "John long had been occupied with good works 
especially with food baskets, groceries, clothing, fuel, medical atten- 
tion to the lesser privileged whites and blacks." The context of that 
statement suggests that that was the case even before 1881. That 
should not be surprising, because many philanthropists are not reli- 
gious persons. Some of the things Pullen did in the late 1890's, how- 
ever, were unusual. While some of the local churches provided each 
year a Christmas dinner for the poor white widows of the city, for 
example, he did the same thing for an even more neglected group. 
The Biblical Recorder for January 5, 1898, reported that "The week of 
Christmas in Raleigh was made worthy of the meaning of the season 
by the great dinner given by John Pullen to the old colored women." 

Another example was his ministry to the men in Central Prison. Sev- 
eral members of Fayetteville Street Church regularly went with him to 
teach Sunday school in the "Penitentiary." When the century-old 
building of Central Prison was razed in October, 1983, the demolition 
crew found in the cornerstone a box containing, among other items, 
the following letter from John T. Pullen, dated July 15, 1885: 

For several years I have been a teacher at the Penitentiary Sunday 
school. I can say from the depths of my heart, that I love to come and 
tell the prisoners of Jesus and his love. Some people think it a yoke to 
walk out here every Sabbath. If it be a yoke, I say My God give me more 

The first pastor of Fayetteville Street Church was C.A.G. Thomas. 
The Biblical Recorder announced on October 6, 1886, that "Rev. 
C.A.G. Thomas has accepted a call to the pastorate of the 3rd Baptist 
Church of Raleigh, and will preach for the church every Sunday even- 
ing." Thomas had been pastor at Warrenton for several years and had 
also served two other churches at the same time. He preached at Kit- 
trell every other Tuesday night and at Middleburg on the third Sun- 
day mornings. Shortly after his marriage he had resigned at Warren- 
ton and accepted a pastorate in Newport News, Virginia. After he had 
been there for less than a year, however, he resigned. The Recorder 
announced that "Rev. C.A.G. Thomas, the former pastor at Warren- 
ton, and who had been doing a good work at Newport News, Vir- 
ginia, has to leave the latter place on account of the health of his 
wife." (BR, 7/29/85) Thomas soon accepted calls to Mt. Moriah and 
Hepzibah churches in Wake County. (BR, 9/6/85) The work which 
he began at Fayetteville Street in October, 1886, was simply a respon- 
sibility added to an already busy schedule. At the end of 1886, how- 
ever, he gave up his other churches, moved to Raleigh, and devoted 
all of his time to Fayetteville Street. 

Thomas' coming to Fayetteville Street Church coincided with the 
church's affiliation with the Raleigh Baptist Association. At its an- 
nual meeting on October 19, 1886, the Association accepted Fayette- 
ville Street Church into its fellowship. The total membership of the 
church at that time was sixty-nine, with fifty-six of that number hav- 
ing been received by baptism. Almost immediately after beginning his 
full-time work at Fayetteville Street, Thomas started a series of revival 
services which continued for nearly a month, and a number of people 
were baptized as a result of it. In a general statement about life in the 
Raleigh churches the editor of the Recorder said of Thomas, "He is 
one of the finest of our young preachers and is doing a good work in 
Raleigh." Thomas' pastorate was quite brief, however, for he left at 
the end of July, 1887, to become pastor of a church in Yancey ville. 


The Reverend Alvin Betts was called almost immediately after 
Thomas' departure. Betts was already well-known to the members of 
Fayetteville Street Church. At the time of the establishment of the 
mission which became Fayetteville Street Church he was pastor at 
Bethlehem Church near Raleigh and attended the meetings of the 
Baptist ministers in Raleigh. (BR, 8/10/84) A note in the Recorder for 
October 8, 1884, shortly before Fayetteville Street Church was formed, 
stated that "A protracted meeting held by brethren Alvin Betts and 
John Pullen at the mission Chapel, resulted in the conversion of four- 
teen persons. This mission will soon result in the organization of the 
3rd Baptist church in Raleigh." Along with C. T. Skinner, pastor of 
the First Baptist Church, and C. T. Bailey, editor of the Biblical 
Recorder, Betts was a member of the presbytery at which the church 
was organized. In 1885 he served several churches in Harnett County. 
In that same year he was also a frequent visiting preacher at Fayette- 
ville street. In the summer of 1886 he "canvassed Wake County in the 
interest of the American Bible Union." (BR, 7/14/86) 

Less is known about Betts' work as pastor at Fayetteville Street than 
is known about his involvement in its formation. The Recorder 
reported nothing about his work there in 1887; the only reference to 
him is the announcement of the death of "another of his sons in the 
prime of early manhood." (BR, 7/27/87) His tenure at Fayetteville 
Street was concluded at the end of the year. 

In April, 1888, S. H. Thompson began his work as pastor at Fayette- 
ville Street Church. Prior to that time he had owned and operated the 
High Point Classical Institute, a school which he had established in 
January, 1886. Almost immediately upon his arrival a revival was 
begun. According to the Recorder for April 18, 1888: 

The interest at the Fayetteville Street church, has been so great that 
pastor Thompson preached every night during the past week, and will 
continue to do so during the present week. Twelve have professed faith 
and about thirty others are pertinently seeking salvation. The church is 
greatly revived and a great work is in progress. 

Thompson was much in demand as a revival preacher in other 
churches. The Recorder carried frequent notices about his being away 
from Fayetteville Street and frequent reports from other churches 
about his work with them. In November, 1888, after only eight 
months in Raleigh, he accepted a call to become pastor of a church in 
South Boston, Virginia, where he had just preached a revival. 

For a year Fayetteville Street Church was without a pastor. Early in 
1890, however, O. L. Stringfield accepted a call from the church. 
Stringfield was one of the best known and most highly respected min- 
isters in the state. He was a native of Wilmington and a member of a 
family that before the Civil War had been quite wealthy. With his 


plder brothers in the Confederate army, Stringfield, although not yet a 
teenager, had a man's responsibilities at home. His struggle with pov- 
erty during the days of the Reconstruction created in him a sympathy 
for the underprivileged which was to characterize his adult ministry. 
At the age of twenty-three he decided to become a minister and went 
to Wake Forest College. At the time of his graduation in 1882 he was 
serving a field of four churches. In September of that year he became 
principal of a new school at Wakefield, near Wendell. For eleven 
years he was the moving force behind that school which was widely 
known for the quality of education it gave students. During all of 
those years he served as pastor of a number of churches, and he was in 
constant demand as a revival preacher. 

In January, 1890, Stringfield conducted a series of meetings at the 
Fayetteville Street Church. On February 9 the Recorder announced: 

Rev. O. L. Stringfield, one of the principals of the Wakefield Classical 
and Mathematical School, has agreed to preach for the Fayetteville 
Street church, Raleigh, on the fourth Sunday of every month at eleven 
a.m. and every Sunday evening at 7:30 p.m. This will in no way inter- 
fere with his duties as co-principal of his school at Wakefield. 

Throughout that year he met his obligations both at the school and at 
Fayetteville Street. In addition, he preached in revivals all over the 
area. There is no record of when he terminated his relationship with 
Fayetteville Street, but it probably was at the end of the year. After 
ending his pastorate, however, he was a frequent preacher at the 
church, and some years later would again become its pastor. 

Jonathan B. Wood assumed the pastorate of Fayetteville Street 
Church in July, 1891. As was the case with his predecessors, and as 
seems to have been usual in Baptist churches in the area, very shortly 
after his arrival he began a series of evangelistic metings. Rather than 
doing the preaching himself, however, he was assisted by a visiting 
minister, the Reverend J. F. Long, of London, England (BR 9/30/91), 
whom the Recorder characterized as "a consecrated man, a zealous 
worker, and a good preacher." (BR, 10/7/91) In April, 1892, there was 
another revival, with O. L. Stringfield doing the preaching. Wood 
was in poor health, and in May, 1892, he resigned and moved to 

A new day dawned for the church in January, 1894. For two years 
after Wood's departure the church had been without a pastor, and 
during most of that time John Pullen had done the preaching. It was 
during that period that the church renewed its efforts to move to a site 
higher up on Fayetteville Street. In January, 1894, the church had a 
new pastor and began its work in its new building. 

The new pastor was not really new, but was a former pastor who 
had returned. O. L. Stringfield had served the church in 1890. In the 


years 1891-1983 he had continued his work at Wakefield, had preached 
in countless revivals throughout the state, and had been pastor to 
other churches. In April, 1892, he had been elected to the Board of 
Trustees of the Baptist Female Institute, which was still in the plan- 
ning stage. In May of the same year the Trustees had engaged him for 
part-time work seeking support for the Institute, and soon afterwards 
they had made the position full-time. He was to devote most of his 
time and energies to that work until the school opened in 1899. He 
was an ideal choice, for no other man was better known in Baptist 
circles in North Carolina. At the time that he was beginning that 
work he accepted a call to return as pastor to Fayetteville Street. 
According to the Biblical Recorder for November 15, 1893: 

Rev. O. L. Stringfield, the worthy agent of the Baptist Female Univer- 
sity, has accepted the pastorate of the Third Baptist church of this city, 
and will locate his family here. We welcome Bro. Stringfield to our city 
and congratulate the Third church on their admirable selection. 

For a full year Stringfield served the church, and apparently served 
it well, for the Recorder frequently reported on the evangelistic work 
there. It also reported that the new building was completely paid for, 
although a bit remained to be paid on the lot. (BR, 5/10/94) The total 
membership of the church reached 147, a figure that represented an 
increase of thirty-four over what it was at the beginning of the year. 
Stringfield concluded his pastorate at the end of the year. 

For nearly three years the church was without a pastor, and again 
John Pullen did most of the preaching. During 1895 he had a good 
deal of assistance from the Reverend A. D. Hunter, the "city mission- 
ary" employed by the Baptists of Raleigh. Hunter worked chiefly with 
the West End Mission and with the Caraleigh mission. In that work 
he was closely associated with John Pullen and was a frequent visitor 
to Fayetteville Street Church. The Recorder for June 5, 1895, noted: 

Fayetteville Street Baptist church closed its meeting last week, and on 
Sunday night last, Rev. A. D. Hunter baptized five. This is forty-one 
recently baptized into this church, three of whom were old men, one in 
seventieth year. Others have joined by letter. Bro. Hunter says he is glad 
to work with such helpers as Bro. John T. Pullen and those who labor 
with him. Many of those who attended this meeting also attended the 
meeting at Caraleigh Mills. 

During 1896 and 1897 Pullen was responsible for the services, usually 
conducting them himself, but often having visiting preachers. 

The next pastor was W. C. Barrett, who came to Raleigh from 
Sampson County. He was visiting preacher at Fayetteville Street on 
the last Sunday in November, 1897. The Recorder for December 15 
carried the notice: "Rev. W. C. Barrett of Sampson Co., who is one of 
the best of our younger men, has resigned the pastorate of his 
churches in Sampson, and will give up his school the last of this year. 


His purpose is to devote full time to the work of the ministry." On 
December 22 the Recorder announced that "Bro. Pullen having need 
of rest, arrangement has been made for Rev. W. C. Barrett of Samp- 
son County to supply the pulpit of the Raleigh Fayetteville Street 
church." Soon the Recorder was calling him "pastor," although it 
never noted his having been called by the church. He was with the 
church through the end of 1899. The editor of the Recorder com- 
mented about his work at Fayetteville Street: 

Rev. W. C. Barrett also has resigned his pastorate, that of the Fayette- 
ville Street Baptist church. He came to Raleigh a young man from a 
country field. He brought an earnest soul, a studious mind and a con- 
secrated life. His labors have been richly blessed. He has grown steadily 
as pastor and preacher. He leaves his church prepared for a larger work 
and he himself is similarly prepared. No one who has watched him 
here can doubt that he has a future of abundant labors and great use- 
fulness before him. 

Barrett himself wrote for publication in the Recorder: 

I have had a very pleasant pastorate at Fayetteville Street Church, 
Raleigh, N.C. One of the most pleasant things connected with my work 
there has been my association with brother John T. Pullen. He is a 
theological seminary in himself, and I believe that my acquaintance 
and work with him will be worth more to me in the future than a year 
spent under any other influence. His consecration, faith, and benefi- 
cience can not be forgotten by any who is associated with him. He is 
faithful to his pastor and to his church, making his duty to them next 
to his duty to God. 

He and the church have stood by me and supported me in all my 
efforts to advance the cause. When my resignation was accepted, every 
cent of my salary had been paid. When I had preached my last sermon 
as pastor of the church Brother Pullen came to me and gave me a 
library of one hundred and fifty volumes of very valuable and useful 
books, together with book cases and room furniture which I had been 
using two years, amounting in all to more than $200.00, and gave me 
$50.00 in cash as a special purse. 

I will say something about the faithful workers, the church and the 
field at Fayetteville Street at some time in the future. (BR, 1/17/1900) 

At the turn of the century, Fayetteville Street Church was playing a 
vital role in the religious life of Raleigh. In fifteen years it had grown 
from a mission church, with a charter membership of three men and 
two women, into a thriving congregation of more than two hundred 
persons. It had reached those people whom it had been intended to 
reach, the unchurched people of south Raleigh. Most of its members 
came into the church by profession of faith and baptism. It had taken 
its place as a vital church in a denomination noted for its evangelistic 

Chapter 3 
A Traditional Church 
In An Era of Progress 


The Christian Oracle, an ecumenical religious journal, began pub- 
lication in 1884, the same year in which Pullen Memorial Baptist 
Church was established. In 1900 its name was changed to The Chris- 
tian Century. That name change symbolized the optimism that per- 
vaded the United States at the time. The new century was greeted with 
a hope and a belief in the future that has been unmatched in Ameri- 
can history. The Civil War was nearly a generation past, and the 
nation was doing a good job of covering up its scars and ignoring the 
unresolved problems which it had left. Only recently the nation had 
emerged the victor in a war with Spain. The people were confident 
that the United States was the greatest nation on earth and were anx- 
ious to share with the rest of the world the benefits of America's pres- 
ence. Everyone shared the belief that God had blessed the nation, and 
that the future was bright because those blessings would continue so 
long as the nation maintained its fidelity to God. 

In 1900 America was well on the way toward becoming an indus- 
trialized and an urbanized nation. Great new economic empires were 
being built by Frederick Weyerhaeuser, James Hill, Edward Harri- 
man, Philip Armour, Gustavus Swift, Robert Morris, Cyrus McCor- 
mick, James Duke, J. P. Morgan, and many others. The masses of 
industrial workers, however, did not share in the wealth of those eco- 
nomic empires. They labored in the mills and the mines, working 


long hours for short pay, often working in hazardous conditions, and 
totally dependent upon jobs which they could lose at any time 
because of their personal failure or because of changes in the econ- 
omy. A large middle class of business and professional people nour- 
ished the American dream, confident that there were no restrictions 
upon their initiative, no limitations except those of their own abili- 
ties. They saw education as the key to success. They were comfortable 
and secure in their belief that the blessings of God came upon those 
who deserved them. 

A major social factor in the South was the presence of a black 
minority in a white-dominated society. The establishment of new 
patterns of relationship between blacks and whites was begun imme- 
diately after the emancipation of the slaves. Beginning about 1885, 
however, the southern states enacted laws requiring racial segregation 
in education, in transportation, in all kinds of public accommoda- 
tions. In addition to the laws there developed a whole complex of 
social customs which rigidly regulated all contact between blacks and 
whites. The process was not complete until shortly before the out- 
break of World War I. The first two decades of the twentieth century, 
therefore, were a period of the establishment of barriers and the fixing 
of restrictions within which our people were to operate for half a 

In reaction to certain elements in the developing patterns of race 
relations, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored 
People was created in 1910. While the NAACP did not become strong 
in the South until well after World War I, it did begin to draw some 
support in cities such as Raleigh. In its early years, through its Legal 
Defense and Educational Fund it provided legal assistance for blacks 
accused of crimes. 

Another agency which was active in the first two decades of the 
twentieth century was the Ku Klux Klan. Originated soon after the 
Civil War, the Klan began to lose members in the last two decades of 
the nineteenth century. Beginning in 1915, however, it experienced a 
revival, and after the end of World War I it grew rapidly in member- 
ship and in power. 

In the same year that the Klan was born the Boy Scouts of America 
was organized. The Scout movement had originated in England in 
1907 with the work of Sir Robert Baden-Powell, and in only a few 
years had become an international movement. An idealistic and self- 
help kind of organization with a stress on wholesome group activities 
and on personal development, it made a significant impact upon the 
lives of literally millions of American youth. In a real sense it cap- 
suled the optimism and the idealism of the American dream. 


In these first two decades of the twentieth century, religion was as 
up-beat as everything else in American life. The modern missionary 
movement, begun in the first half of the nineteenth century, had pro- 
gressed at a steady pace. The Student Volunteer Movement, organized 
in 1888, was having its greatest impact in history under the leadership 
of John R. Mott. All major denominations were affected, and more 
than ten thousand men and women served as missionaries in the first 
twenty years of this century. The movement's motto was "the evangeli- 
zation of the world in this generation." 

Revivalism, too, continued apace. In the early twentieth century 
Sam Jones was called "The Moody of the South." B. Fay Mills was 
conducting carefully planned campaigns which involved the churches 
in each city he entered. Gypsy Smith, Cyclone Mack, Mordecai Ham, 
and scores of others moved back and forth across the nation preaching 
a gospel of salvation from the fires of hell. The best-known evangelist 
of the period was William Ashley ("Billy") Sunday, a former profes- 
sional baseball player with a flair for showmanship. 

The main theological current in America, however, particularly in 
the Northeast, was not revivalism but liberalism. The theological 
schools and the universities all made use of the new methods of bibli- 
cal criticism, and all tried to come to terms with the new scholarship 
in the realms of science and technology. Their approach to faith was 
less authoritarian and less exclusive, and more dependent on reason 
and more humanistic. They dealt less with the personal application 
of the gospel and more with the social implications. 

In the major denominations a vigorous reaction against liberalism 
developed. Reactionary efforts came to a focus in 1910-1915 in the 
publication of a series of twelve small volumes of essays on The Fun- 
damentals. Those essays were widely distributed among both lay and 
clerical leaders. While they did not halt the trend toward liberalism, 
they did clarify the differences and tended to harden them. Because of 
the general educational and cultural isolation of the South from the 
rest of the country, the churches here were not as seriously affected by 
the division as were the churches of the Northeast. They were not 
completely unaffected by the controversy, however, because at least 
echos of the discussions were heard. 

The Sunday school movement spread rapidly in the early twentieth 
century. The avowed purpose of Sunday schools was Bible study; the 
chief objective of that Bible study seems to have been the winning of 

Another feature of church life of the period was support for the 
temperance movement. The work of the W.C.T.U. and the Anti- 
Saloon League was supported by the efforts of many denominations. 


Even Southern Baptists, who had a reputation for resistance to politi- 
cal action and to cooperative efforts with other denominations, joined 
in the campaign. Most evangelicals found it difficult to distinguish 
between light, moderate, and heavy drinking and believed that the 
best thing to do was to press for the complete avoidance of the use of 
alcohol. Their efforts culminated in the ratification of the Eighteenth 
Amendment to the Constitution, which went into effect in 1920. 

The major denominations were deeply affected by the Social Gos- 
pel. This movement was an effort to bring the gospel to bear upon the 
new and urgent social problems that were brought on by the rapid 
industrialization and urbanization of the nation, and, therefore, upon 
a wide variety of economic issues. It was also concerned about the 
problems of minority groups, international relations, political power, 
the court system, and so on. Washington Gladden, who died in 1918, 
has often been called the "father" of the social gospel, and Walter 
Rauschenbusch, a Baptist minister who also died in 1918, has been 
called its "prophet." Rauschenbusch's book, Christianity and the 
Social Crisis, published in 1907, was one of the best read and most 
highly influential religious books of the era. There were varying 
degrees of openness to the social gospel, but all of the major denomi- 
nations were affected by it. 

In the early years of the twentieth century a concern for Christian 
unity was expressed in cooperative efforts in the cause of temperance, 
in the support of foreign missions, and in the Sunday school move- 
ment. In addition, in 1907, thirty-three evangelical denominations 
formed a cooperative agency called the Federal Council of the 
Churches of Christ in America. The Southern Baptist Convention, 
however, never affiliated with that Council. 

Although Southern Baptists have insisted that they are a "denomi- 
nation" and not a "church," in this period they took a number of 
steps to strengthen their denominational organization and thus took 
on the essential features of a church. One such step was the coordi- 
nating of the work of the State Conventions. Another was the encour- 
agement of the use of denominational publications in the educational 
program of the churches. Still another was the establishment of a 
second theological seminary, Southwestern, which was opened in 
Texas in 1908. Yet another was the establishment of the Relief and 
Annuity Board to help provide retirement income for ministers. 

The city of Raleigh was experiencing rapid growth at the turn of 
the century. In 1890 the population was 12,678; in 1909 it was 19,218. 
That growth was due largely to the fact that the city was the center of 
state government, and government was growing. The city limits were 
enlarged several times, although not all of the residents of the newly- 
annexed territories were convinced that incorporation into the city 
was an unmixed blessing. In 1910 a local realty company, over some 


local opposition, began a housing development known as Cameron 
Park. First Baptist Chruch acquired some property in that area to 
provide for the establishment of a church, and in the 1920's that 
property was to play a part in the decision of Pullen Memorial 
Church to relocate in West Raleigh. 

Some problems associated with the growth of the city were already 
being recognized before 1900, and efforts were made to deal with 
them. Those efforts were intensified during the first two decades of 
the twentieth century. The paving of the city streets continued, and 
the provision of a more adequate system of electric lighting followed 
quickly. Telephone service was improved and expanded. Carolina 
Power and Light Company took over the streetcar system and ex- 
panded it. Still something of a novelty in the city in 1900, the auto- 
mobile was common enough by 1920 to make at least one service 
station a profitable venture. Steps were taken to solve the water prob- 
lems. Hospital services were increased and improved, with both Rex 
Hospital (in 1904) and St. Agnes Hospital (in 1909) entering new 

Educational institutions were very much in the public mind. North 
Carolina State Agricultural and Mechanical College had begun opera- 
tion in 1889, and was attracting more students every year. Meredith 
College was opened in 1899, and it drew support from all over the 
state. The public school system was prospering, particularly with the 
opening of the Raleigh High School in 1906, with Hugh Morson as 

The growth of state government required additional space for state 
agencies, and the second decade of the century was a period of the 
expansion of facilities. A number of imposing new government build- 
ings were erected, and there was considerable construction on the 
campus of North Carolina State College. In addition, expanding bus- 
iness and banking concerns, particularly on Fayetteville Street, re- 
quired new buildings. County government too was growing and had 
to erect new facilities. 

The entrance of the United States into World War I, in April of 
1917, brought an immediate change to Raleigh. Within two months 
over 2500 Raleigh men were in uniform, and within a year a third of 
those men were on duty in France. A number of Raleigh women 
served in the medical corps. Camp Polk was made a training ground 
for the tank corps. Thousands of soldiers from all over the country 
who were trained there spent some time in the city, and many of them 
enjoyed the hospitality of Raleigh residents. Then, in 1918, as sud- 
denly as they came, the soldiers were gone. Two months after the end 
of the war Camp Polk was deactivated. For Raleigh, the last great 
hurrah of the war came on March 23, 1919, when a crowd of 50,000 


people welcomed home Raleigh's native son, Colonel Albert L. Cox, 
and the 113th Field Artillery. Colonel Cox and his regiment had 
played a major role in the break in the Hindenburg Line which had 
turned the tide for the Allies and was the prelude to victory. 

In spite of economic uncertainty, therefore, in spite of festering 
social problems, and in spite of the war, the first two decades of the 
twentieth century were an era of progress in the United States. Like 
the rest of the South, the state of North Carolina and the city of 
Raleigh were not in the mainstream of all the developments in the 
country. Yet they could not have been completely isolated from any of 
them. Life in Raleigh was, on the whole, upbeat. The city was grow- 
ing and prospering, and Fayetteville Street Baptist Church was in step 
with the times. 

When W. C. Barrett left Fayetteville Street Baptist Church in 
December, 1899, the church was in good condition. During the two 
years of his leadership it had increased in membership by a total of 
twenty-two persons. The Sunday school was thriving, with more than 
two hundred on roll. Although a decline in financial contributions 
had occurred because of uncertainty in the national economic situa- 
tion, the future of the church was not in any serious danger. 

For the first seven months of 1900 the church was without a pastor. 
As usual, John T. Pullen did most of the preaching during the inter- 
im. In June, 1900, Edwards and Broughton published his little book, 
What Saith the Scripture? The editor of the Biblical Recorder called 
that document "the product of his incessant study of the Scriptures." 
(7/1 1/1900) A large part of it is a beautiful arrangement of quotations 
from the Scripture to answer a wide variety of religious questions. 
Another section is a collection of Pullen's comments on Scripture, 
simple and direct and practical. The final portion is a reprint of two 
of his addresses, "Personal Work" and "Likeness of God's Word to 
Fire." The book sold for fifty cents and the profits from it went to the 
Students' Aid Fund of the Baptist Female University. 

From time to time during the interim visiting preachers from 
throughout the state spoke at Fayetteville Street Church. Apparently 
some of them were delivering "trial sermons" to give the congrega- 
tion an opportunity to hear persons who might be considered for pas- 
tor. One such person was A. A. Butler, of Franklinton. Noting that 
Butler had preached at Fayetteville Street in early June, the editor of 
the Recorder commented that he had "greatly pleased the congrega- 
tion of our Fayetteville Street Baptist Church," and that "Franklinton 
had better look out!" (BR, 6/13/1900) 

Butler was called by Fayetteville Street and became pastor on the 
first Sunday in August, 1900. He served the church through April, 
1902. Shortly after his arrival the editor of the Recorder commented 


that he was "making a fine impression" upon the church. (8/29/1900) 
A few weeks later he commented that "Butler had taken the Fayette- 
ville Street people by storm." (10/3/1900) During his tenure the 
membership of the church increased only slightly, however, and 
enrollment in the Sunday school remained about the same. With a 
membership of 232, the church sems to have stopped growing in size, 
at least for a time. The changing character of the area in which it was 
located may have been a major factor in this development. Butler 
certainly did those things that a pastor was expected to do. On the 
occasion of his first anniversary as pastor the Recorder said that "He 
had rendered very effective service, preaching ably and visiting con- 
stantly. His work is highly successful." (8/14/01) He apparently was 
well respected in the area, for in November, 1901, he preached the 
introductory sermon at the annual meeting of the Raleigh Baptist 
Association. One Sunday in February, 1902, he occupied the pulpit of 
First Baptist, while the pastor was away, and the report of that event 
noted that "This young preacher continues to make substantial pro- 
gress." (2/12/02) 

John Pullen continued his evangelistic and philanthropic work as 
usual. On January 9, 1901, the Recorder described at length one of 
the activities for which he was noted: 

One of the most unique and thoughtful remembrances of the poor 
that we have seen, is in the Old Folk's Dinner, given at the Fayetteville 
Street Baptist church in this city, by the Young Ladies' Society of the 
First Baptist church and Mr. John T. Pullen. On New Year's day of 
each year the young ladies of the First Baptist church prepare a bounti- 
ful spread for the aged poor. Invitations are issued and when necessary 
private carriages are used to bring the invited guest to the feast. The 
young ladies serve the meal, acting as waitresses. Tables are spread, 
comfortable seats provided and in every way the feast is a spread of 
which any up-to-date hostelry might be proud. In this work the young 
ladies are ably assisted by Bro. J. T. Pullen, who is the presiding genius 
of the Fayetteville Street church and the active friend of every worthy 
enterprise. Surely this is a good work and will bring its reward to those 
who gave it. 

Another philanthropic interst was revealed in a letter signed by 
Pullen, along with W. N. Jones, N. B. Broughton, C. J. Hunter, and 
R. N. Simms, who constituted the "Central Committee of Educa- 
tion," and published in the Recorder for February 6, 1902. That letter 
appealed for support in the denomination's commitment to raise 
$50,000 to pay off the debts "on the Baptist Female University, the 
Chowan Baptist Female Institute, and our Baptist academies." 

At the end of April, 1902, Butler left Fayetteville Street Church to 
become pastor of the Baptist church in Beaufort. Although his minis- 
try at Fayetteville Street had continued the evangelistic tradition, that 
does not seem to have been his major emphasis. Twice, at least, the 


editor of the Biblical Recorder had spoken of his pastoral work. On 
the first anniversary of his coming to the church the editor had 
spoken of his "visiting constantly." And in announcing Butler's 
resignation the editor had spoken of his doing "good and strong 
work here, in pulpit and in the homes of the people." 

For approximately a year Fayetteville Street Church was without a 
pastor, and as usual, John Pullen either preached at the services or 
was responsible for inviting a visiting preacher. 

In May, 1903, the church called R. J. Bateman, and he began his 
work with them on the first Sunday in July. At the time the church 
called him, Bateman was pastor in Milton. He had preached at Fay- 
etteville Street in a series of meetings in April, and the editor of the 
Recorder had called him "a very promising man." W. P. Baker, in his 
unpublished history of Pullen Memorial Church, described him as 

a young man just out of College. A man of great power, mentally, 
spiritually and physically. He was a handsome man in the Pulpit with 
a great delivery, endowed with the spirit of love for the lost with great 
persuasive powers. 43 joined the Church by Baptism and 7 by letter. It 
was plain to see that this man on fire with God's Spirit was going far 
as a Minister of the Gospel, (p. 7) 

Only a few weeks after he began at Fayetteville Street, the editor of the 
Recorder reported, "Rev. R. J. Bateman, the new pastor of the 
Raleigh Fayetteville Street Church, is a most excellent young man. He 
has from the first thrown himself into our denominational life, and 
his enthusiasm has succeeded in bringing his churches forward." 

Bateman represented a return to the evangelistic emphasis which 
had characterized most of his predecessors, but which apparently was 
not an emphasis of his immediate predecessor, A. A. Butler. He often 
preached in revivals in other churches in addition to conducting such 
services at Fayetteville Street. The Recorder reported on a meeting 
which he was conducting at Fayetteville Street and said "Large 
crowds and frequent manifestations of interest bear witness to the 
divine approval." (9/6/03) A month later, in commenting on a ser- 
mon which Bateman preached at First Baptist, the Recorder noted: 
"He has recently baptized thirty converts in his own church as the 
result of a revival conducted by himself. His people are delighted and 
the church was never in so hopeful a frame." (10/14/03) Thereafter 
the Recorder frequently reported on his evangelistic work both at 
Fayetteville Street and elsewhere. 

Bateman actually served two terms as pastor of Fayetteville Street. 
He began his first term on the first Sunday in July, 1903, and ended it 
on the last of August, 1904, when he accepted the call of the Mount 


Olive church. In April, 1905, he was back at Fayetteville Street to con- 
duct a revival, and at the end of July he accepted the invitation to 
return as pastor. In congratulating Fayetteville Street on his return, 
the Recorder noted that the church "has a great field — half of Raleigh 
and the needier half at that." (7/26/05) In December of that same year 
Bateman resigned again, however, this time to accept the pastorate of 
Spurgeon Memorial Church in Norfolk. Apparently he saw himself 
primarily as an evangelist, and could not be satisfied long in any one 

In light of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church's long and close asso- 
ciation with Wake Forest University, as well as with Meredith Col- 
lege and North Carolina State University, it is interesting to observe 
that some twenty years after his service at Fayetteville Street Bateman 
became involved in the evolution controversy which focused on Wil- 
liam Louis Poteat. At that time he was pastor of the First Baptist 
Church of Asheville. It was he who wrote the resolution on the con- 
troversy which was offered at the Baptist State Convention, meeting 
in Charlotte in 1925. The resolution was not bitter; it was not anti- 
Poteat; it was not overtly anti-evolution. Rather it affirmed a belief in 
"Genesis not as a myth, but as God's inspired revelation." In light of 
the strong feelings of the time, the resolution was remarkably mild 
and was not interpreted by Wake Forest as in any way limiting aca- 
demic freedom. Friends of the College interpreted Bateman's resolu- 
tion as one which, in the long run, protected the College from a far 
more serious attack. 

Church statistics are notoriously unreliable In this period of the 
history of Pullen, however, they are puzzling. According to Baker, 
when A. A. Butler was pastor the membership reached 232. In the 
interim between Butler and Bateman, he says, there were twenty addi- 
tions to the church. Bateman, he reports, baptized forty-three and 
received seven by letter. Yet in the spring of 1904, according to the 
Biblical Recorder (5/4/04), the church had a membership of 216, with 
171 in Sunday school. About the time of Bateman's departure at the 
end of 1905 there was a decline in membership; by the time for the 
annual report to be submitted to the Association in the fall of the 
year, there were only 159 members. The reasons for the decline are 
uncertain, but one of them may be the work at Caraleigh Cotton Mill 
Village. Members from Fayetteville Street were active in a mission 
Sunday school there, and some of them may have become a part of 
the church that was organized there. 

After Bateman's resignation the church was without a minister for 
only four months. E. Y. Poole, who had been pastor in Sanford, 
began his work in May, 1906. In announcing his acceptance, the 
Recorder said: 


Bro. E. Y. Poole, of Santord, accepts the call of our Fayetteville Street 
Church, which in recent years has taken on much strength, and which 
we hope will become a rival of her sister churches here. It is now a most 
useful institution. Brother Poole is well equipped for his task; not only 
a good preacher, but an enthusiastic pastor and leader. (3/7/06) 

Perhaps the Recorder's appreciation of Poole was intensified by the 
fact that every family in the Sanford church was receiving the 
Recorder] Poole remained at Fayetteville Street for less than a year, 
resigning in April, 1907. Apparently he resigned without having 
received a call to another church, for the Recorder said: 

Bro. E. Y. Poole has resigned the pastorate of Fayetteville Street 
Church, Raleigh, after a term of devoted and successful service. He is 
an excellent preacher and a diligent pastor. We regret very much that 
he has left Raleigh, but hope that he will shortly take up a pastorate in 
our Convention. (4/17/07) 

John Pullen's interest in denominational institutions apparently 
continued to expand. An article in the Recorder for December 12, 
1906, desribed one of his visits to Baptist Children's Home: 

Mr. John Pullen, the philanthropist of Raleigh, without a word of 
warning rolled in Thursday afternoon with candy enough for all. A 
hasty summons brought the children together and Mr. Pullen distrib- 
uted the candy and made the children one of his kindly, helpful talks. 
His coming was like a sunburst and left a sweet influence. He took the 
first train and glided away as quietly as he came. Blessings on the man. 
He must be very happy, because he brings so much happiness to the 
hearts of others. 

About a year later Pullen's Sunday school class, the Baraca class, 
decided to contribute $6.00 per month for the support of a child at the 
Thomasville Orphanage. In addition, the church made a $33.00 cash 
contribution to the Orphanage, along with a box of food and 

As usual in the periods without a pastor, Pullen was responsible for 
the pulpit of Fayetteville Street Church. Often he had visting 
preachers, some of whom were ministers and lay persons from 
Raleigh. Others apparently were people whom the congregation was 
considering for a call to the pastorate of the church. In this interim 
Pullen also led the congregation in a small building program, adding 
a class room in which Pullen's own class met. The seating capacity of 
that room was a hundred and fifty. In announcing that construction 
the Recorder called Pullen "a prince of teachers and Christian 

The church was not long without a pastor. The Reverend P. G. 
Elsom began his work at Fayetteville Street in the middle of Sep- 
tember, 1907. While little background information about him is 
available, he seems to have been one of the most colorful and charis- 
matic individuals who ever served the church. He was pre-eminently 


an evangelist, and his fourteen-month tenure at the church seems to 
have been one of continuous "protracted meeting." On September 25 
the Recorder announced that "Pastor Elsom, of the Fayetteville Street 
Baptist Church began a series of revival meetings last Sunday." On 
October 9 it noted that "A great spiritual revival is going on in the 
Fayetteville Street Church in Raleigh under the leadership of its pas- 
tor, Rev. P. G. Elsom." On October 23 the Recorder reported that 

Revival of great power goes on at Fayetteville Street Baptist Church. 
Seventy-three persons have already united with the church, the majority 
of them strong young men. There have been fifty baptized up-to-date 
and fully 100 professions of religion. Sunday night the church was 
packed, and the pastor, Rev. P. G. Elsom, was asked by a vote of the 
Church to go on preaching in this revival. 

The November 6 issue of the Recorder reported that the revival meet- 
ings had closed, and that there had been eighty-one additions to the 
church, fifty-six of whom had come by baptism. After that there were 
additions almost every week. In the first four months of Elsom's pas- 
torate, ninety-seven persons were received into the membership of the 
church. In February of 1908 he conducted another revival in which 
sixteen persons joined the church. In July he was in a revival at Cara- 
leigh, where ninety-six persons joined the church, seventy-three of 
whom were baptized. All of this activity was in addition to Elsom's 
evangelistic work outside the city. 

W. P. Baker, author of the brief unpublished history of the first 
forty-five years of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, had been baptized 
into Pullen Memorial on May 5, 1907, shortly before Elsom became 
pastor. He summarized Elsom's impact upon the church: 

He was an evangelistic [sic]. A man of deep and earnest convictions. He 
held several meetings. We would have a song leader and he doing the 
Preaching. One of these meetings lasted for six weeks. Over sixty peo- 
ple were saved. Our City was stirred under the dynamic Preaching of 
this Apostle. Other Churches joined in the meetings. It was a great 
blessing for our City. Hard and confirmed drunkards and many old 
people joined our Church for Baptism. The meetings in most cases 
would go on well beyond midnight. Mr. Elsom was not a strong man 
physically. When his energy would give out Mr. Pullen would do the 
Preaching. There ws a great deal of personal work, praying and visit- 
ing in the homes. Surely the windows of heaven were open. We could 
see the blessings of the Lord. A Prayer Answered. While whole families 
were saved. There was great activities in our Church. A Bible Class 
meeting every Friday night. Sunday School greatly improved and 
enlarged. 224 members. Total money raised $3,046.00 the first year. 
(Unpublished history, pp. 8-9) 

Consistent with his concern for evangelism, Elsom had a great 
interest in missions. In June, 1908, he led the church in the observ- 
ance of a "Mission Week" in which addresses were delivered by a 


number of denominational leaders, including E. L. Middleton, Liv- 
ingston Johnson, J. W. Bailey, and Governor Glenn. One outcome of 
the week was the formation of a Mission Band comprised of people 
who agreed to "contribute every week toward the evangelization of 
the world." That line echoes the famous motto of the Student Volun- 
teer Movement, "the evangelization of the world in this generation." 

Elsom resigned on the last Sunday in October, 1908. His announced 
purpose was to "devote himself to evangelistic work with headquar- 
ters in Raleigh." Two weeks later, however, the Recorder announced 
that "A new Baptist Church was organized in Raleigh last Sunday 
afternoon, under direction of Rev. P. G. Elsom, no other pastors or 
churches co-operating, we understand." (BR, 11/18/08) The next 
issue of the Recorder carried further information: 

Rev. P. G. Elsom, the pastor requests us to state that no other churches 
were invited to participate and that the church was organized according 
to usual Baptist usage after adopting the customary articles of faith. 
Brother Sandridge, the leading member of the church, an earnest 
brother, and native of the same county in Virginia as Brother Elsom, 
also requests us to explain that the Baptist pastors in the city who were 
expected to participate were not present because they felt that the pro- 
posed organization was not wise at this time. (BR, 11/25/08) 

The new church, called "Evangel Baptist Church," had ninety-two 
charter members. Its meetings were held in the court house, and they 
were, as might be expected, essentially evangelistic services. The 
Recorder regularly reported on the progress of the church, and on 
January 26, 1910, announced the church's purchase of a lot on the 
corner of Dawson and Davie streets. In March the congregation began 
holding their services in the residence that occupied that lot. On May 
10, 191 1, some two and a half years after its organization, without any 
further information as to reasons for the action, the Recorder an- 
nounced "The Evangel Baptist Church of Raleigh recently disbanded. 
Pastor P. G. Elsom is giving himself to evangelistic work." 

In a leather-bound notebook dated 1907 John Pullen recorded 
twenty-six of his sermons. The notes are written in Pullen's own 
hand and the fly-leaf contains the note, "Please Return to JOHN T. 
PULLEN — Raleigh, N.C." The book is well-worn, with many 
places where further notes were added to the original ones. Many 
clippings have been pasted in throughout the book, most of them 
illustrations which fit the sermons. As one would expect, the sermons 
are expository in pattern and evangelistic in content. Many are stern 
and moralistic. Typical titles are "Sin No More," "Conditions of 
Peace," "Flee the Wrath to Come," "Repentance toward God," 
"Wicked turned into Hell," and "How Shall we Clear Ourselves." A 


few are more inviting: "The Wondrous Works of God," "The Spirit 
Says Come," "The Master is Come and Calleth." All warn against the 
rejection of God. "John Pullen the preacher" seems quite different 
from "John Pullen the Philanthropist," and even from "John Pullen 
the friend of all kinds of people." 

John L. Cooke, the successor of Elsom at Fayetteville Street, was 
very different in personality and in approach to ministry. He was 
called in April, 1909, five months after Elsom's resignation. The Bib- 
lical Recorder called him "a capable Northern minister, who had 
been spending some time at Southern Pines." (4/21/09) Baker's obser- 
vations about Cooke are instructive: "He was a consecrated Man. He 
came at a time when we needed a Man of his type. He was easy going 
with a quiet disposition. He was a good Preacher with a thorough 
knowledge of the Bible." (p. 10) 

During Cooke's short stay at Fayetteville Street there was only one 
Recorder report on his work. On July 28, 1909, after referring to the 
baptism of several persons into the church, the editor observed: "We 
are glad to know the church is prospering in every way and the Sun- 
day school increasing. Besides the regular services of the church, 
open-air meetings and prayer meetings are frequently held at different 
places in the city." One year later, on July 20, 1910, the Recorder 
announced that because of poor health Pastor Cooke had resigned 
Fayetteville Street and would spend some months at his home in 
Ohio. "Those who have known Bro. Cooke love and esteem him most 
highly for his genuine worth," said the editor. "He is a royal Chris- 
tian gentleman, and we are indeed sorry to lose him and pray for his 
recovery and return to the State." 

Cooke was succeeded by L.E.M. Freeman, a man who was much 
like Cooke in temperament and in emphasis. Freeman was a native of 
South Carolina and a graduate of Furman University. He had studied 
theology at Newton Seminary, at Harvard, and at the University of 
Chicago. He completed his theological education at the Southern 
Baptist Theological Seminary, receiving the Th.D. degree from that 
institution. In the fall of 1910 he joined the faculty of Meredith Col- 
lege as Professor of Bible. In his early years at that institution, how- 
ever, he also taught philosophy, sociology, ethics, and education. He 
was to remain at Meredith until his retirement in 1949. He accepted 
the pastorate of the Fayetteville Street Church in addition to his work 
at Meredith and began his ministry on September 1, 1910. 

Freeman's chief contribution to the church, in addition to his 
preaching and pastoral work, was the improvement of the Sunday 
school. He gave considerable attention to its organization and opera- 
tion, and it gained an approved rating with the Convention's Sunday 
School Board. In the spring of 1911 the church expanded its physical 


plant with the addition of twelve new Sunday school classrooms, bor- 
rowing the money to pay for them. Finding the demands of the 
pastorate too great for him to meet in addition to his work at Mere- 
dith, Freeman resigned at the end of April, 1911. He remained a 
member of the church, however, until his death in January, 1979. 

During this period John T. Pullen continued his own unique min- 
istry by preparing a series of brief articles on "Prayer and Its Answer," 
which was published in the Recorder in the early weeks of 1911. Later 
that series was expanded and published in book form. The material 
consists of brief quotations of scripture and devotional comments on 
those quotations. Some comments were simple, one-sentence state- 
ments; others were as long as two or three pages. The book concluded 
with his famous message on "Personal Work," and another sermon 
on the text, "Is Not My Word Like as a Fire? Saith the Lord." 

Upon receiving Freeman's resignation in April, 1911, the church 
voted to call F. D. King. King, pastor in Jonesboro, had just been 
preaching in revival services at Fayetteville Street earlier in the 
month. In that series of services, according to Baker, forty persons had 
been received for baptism, twenty-seven had been received by letter, 
and three had been restored to fellowship. King began his work as 
pastor on the first Sunday in July, 1911. Apparently he had been 
called on the strength of his work as an evangelist, and the church 
continued to grow during his tenure. His chief contribution, however, 
was not in evangelism but in his emphasis on Christian education. 
Under his leadership the church organized its first Baptist Young 
People's Union. In April, 1912, the Recorder announced that Fayette- 
ville Street had in its membership "three Blue Seal graduates of our 
Convention Normal Course." (BR, 4/24/12) That course was a Con- 
vention training program for church school workers. Even King's 
sermons often had what we would call an educational emphasis. In 
June, 1912, for example, he delivered two series of sermons, one in the 
morning services and one in the evening, which were essentially Bible 
studies. They dealt with such matters as "marriage, the sanctity of the 
home, amusement, business and religion, uses and abuses of the 
tongue, and the source of true holiness." (BR, 6/5/12) 

Even though the Sunday school plant had only recently been 
enlarged, the need for more room was apparent and work was soon 
under way. An interesting side light is the notation in the Biblical 
Recorder for February 28, 1912, that the proceeds from the sale of 
John T. Pullen's little book, "Prayer and Its Answer," would be used 
to help pay for the $2500 improvements. When King resigned at the 
end of August, 1912, to work as an evangelist for the Home Mission 
Board, the Biblical Recorder commented on his achievements: 


The church has recently been greatly improved, the church having 
spent fully $3,000 in improvements, which has all been paid. The 
church is now installing a new $1,600 organ. The prospects of the 
church are bright. Brother King's pastorate has been successful in every 
way. (9/11/12) 

Unfortunately not a great deal of information about lay people in 
the church, other than John T. Pullen, has been preserved. Baker, 
however, has a paragraph on the death of one outstanding layman: 

In May 1912 the Church suffered a great loss in the death of Mr. W. E. 
Fann. He and his Wife had been most faithful servants since they joined 
our Church by Baptism in February 1886. He was a man of great power 
and prayer. He constantly advocated prayer. His motto was "Prayer 
Changes Things." He was at his best in Cottage Prayer Meetings. Many 
was the time I have seen him come into the little meeting room at 
Fayetteville Crossing where a cottage prayer meeting was held every 
Thursday Night with an arm full of fire wood for the little stove. Other 
times he would bring sacks of meal and flour if he heard of anyone in 
need in the neighborhood. He entered into the rest that remaineth to 
the faithful during an afternoon nap. (pp. 10-11) 

The same notice in the Biblical Recorder which announced King's 
resignation also announced A. V. Joyner's acceptance of the pastor- 
ate. Joyner came to Raleigh from Tarboro, where he had worked 
under the auspices of the Home Mission Board. He began his work at 
Fayetteville Street on November 1, 1912. 

For several years the Raleigh News and Observer reported each 
Monday on services held in the local churches on the preceding day. 
Often those reports summarized the sermons. According to the reports 
on Fayetteville Street Church, Joyner was an able preacher who had 
considerable variety in his texts and topics. One report noted: "In his 
portrayal of the supreme sacrifice the preacher swayed his large 
audience which in spite of the heat gave strictest attention." (N&O, 
7/13/14) The report for the next week began, "The services at this 
church were of unusually high order. The music was good and the 
sermons made each person who heard them wish for a better life." 
(N&O, 7/20/14) The following week the report concluded, "The 
preaching at both services was practical and spiritually quickening." 
(N&O, 7/27/14) On the next Sunday it seems to have been "business 
as usual" at Pullen, as at most other churches in the city, although 
war had just broken out in Europe. By way of contrast, the headline 
of the column next to the report on Pullen's services read "Peace 
Prayer at Tabernacle." (N&O, 8/3/14) On October 4, however, which 
was "Peace Sunday," Joyner did speak to the issue of the war. 

Although the denomination's Baptist Young People's Unon origi- 
nated in the latter part of the nineteenth century, the first documen- 
tary evidence of a B.Y.P.U. at Pullen is found in the News and 


Observer for August 10, 1914. That item reports that the evening serv- 
ices at Pullen on the previous day "were conducted by the Baptist 
Young People's Union of the church," and that the subject of discus- 
sion was "The object of the B.Y.P.U." One speaker called the 
B.Y.P.U. "an extended function of the church, and declared it to be 
one of the greatest forces in bringing the young people to the front 
and preparing them for a greater work." 

Joyner cooperated fully with denominational programs. On Sep- 
tember 20, for example, he devoted the morning service to a considera- 
tion of state missions and had several members of the Woman's Mis- 
sionary Society take part. His sermon dealt with "The History and 
Present Outlook of State Mission Work." In that same service he gave 
attention to "the place of State missions in the Baptist scheme for 
world evangelization, the church building fund and the Wake Forest 
church." (N&O, 9/21/14) 

A notable event in the religious life of Raleigh occurred during the 
first two weeks in March, 1914. Ten Raleigh churches, including the 
three white Baptist churches, conducted simultaneous evangelistic 
meetings. This cooperative effort was lauded by the editor of the 
Recorder, who observed: 

Ten of our Raleigh churches have just united in a two weeks' evange- 
listic campaign which came to a close last Sunday. Each church had 
services each evening in its own house of worship and all came together 
each afternoon in a joint service. The idea was a very happy one and 
has worked out most admirably, promoting good fellowship among the 
Christian people of the city, committing due responsibility to each 
church, and resulting in a number of additions to the churches. 

The preacher for the services at Pullen was C. A. Jenkins, of Cavalry 
Church, Richmond, Virginia, and the church received twenty-two 
new members. 

John T. Pullen died early in the morning on May 2, 1913. He had 
been ill for several weeks, although he had continued both his work 
and his church activities. At the annual meeting of the board of trus- 
tees of Meredith College, held on April 8, he had asked to be relieved 
of his duty as treasurer. On April 26 a revival meeting was begun at 
Fayetteville Street Church, and it is appropriate that Pullen died at a 
time when the church was engaged in the activity that, from his point 
of view, was the most important thing that the church did. 

Pullen's importance in the Raleigh community would be hard to 
overestimate. The report of his death appeared on the front page of 
the News and Observer on the morning of May 2, 1913. Under the 
headline, "John T. Pullen Dies Suddenly," came the note "Banker 
and Philanthropist Passes at 2:05 This Morning." The brief news 
article stated: 


Mr. John T. Pullen, president of the Raleigh Savings Bank and Trust 
Company died this morning at 2:05 o'clock at the residence of Mr. John 
W. Harden on Hillsboro Street. 

Mr. Pullen's death came with shocking suddenness, he having been 
ill only since Monday and the fact of his illness being known only to a 
comparative few. Mr. Pullen was sixty years old in last December. He 
was generally known as Raleigh's best loved citizen and he had given 
aid to every charitable object in this city. 

The next day the News and Observer eulogized: 

The poor of Raleigh were never so poor as they are today. 

John Pullen is dead. 

The hand that was ever ready to help them in their helplessness, the 
voice that soothed them in their distress, the heart that beat with them 
in their sorrows — they are still; and those that knew him shall know 
him no more forever. 

"There hath passed a glory from the earth." 

Who shall measure the value of John T. Pullen to the city of 
Raleigh, not to mention the wider reaches of his influence? In business 
he achieved much more than most men do. He was president of one of 
our leading savings banks — He was in no small degree the heart of that 
bank. But the trophy of his business success is the least of the trophies 
that he now brings home with him. A greater trophy is that he man- 
aged to work out a great business career and at the same time led a life 
of ministry to the poor and the sorrowing that was unsurpassed by 
those of the most active ministers of the Gospel. And greater still is the 
inspiration of his example: John Pullen has been the standard in 
Raleigh — the standard of goodness for nearly thirty years. And he will 
be the standard for two generations to come. Mothers taught their sons 
to be "like John Pullen." Sunday school teachers and minister pointed 
to him as the living example of the practicability of the Christian ideal. 
There was in him the power of a genuine incarnation of the Gospel. 
He was the best representative of his Master this city has ever known. 
There was more radiance in his life, as there is more shadow in his 
death, than were possible of any other one man or woman. 

It is not the purpose of this brief article to enumerate Mr. Pullen's 
good works. He was the founder and the chief human force in one of 
our most useful churches to which he ministered in the pulpit, in the 
Sunday school, in all its meetings, and in all its homes, with unfailing 
diligence. But this was not enough. He helped in all the churches upon 
opportunity. And he was besides the shepherd of the unsheperded 
masses of this city. Whenever death came, whether in the home of rich 
or poor, there soon was seen John Pullen. Whenever sickness or want 
befell there soon was he. Worthy and unworthy poor found in him a 
friend. It is not that he gave with an open hand — this he did as never 
did another here about — but that he gave also his life himself. He had a 
heart for all the world. 

Some may say it is a slight matter, but probably the little girls and 
boys will miss his smile, his tender words and his little gifts — of picture 
cards and gospels — as much as any others. A slight matter compared 
with the more serious ministers of the man: but how beautiful and how 


Raleigh will never forget John Pullen — his name will be remembered 
here as long as sorrow and poverty shall make their calls on the human 
heart. She may not have had her greatest or her wealthiest man as yet, 
but she has had her best man and all her sons will be better because she 
has had him. 

Intensely religious, the Christian in every fibre of his being, Mr. 
Pullen 's mind and heart were ever fixed upon "the city which hath 
foundations whose builder and maker is God," and upon the central 
figure of that city, Jesus the Christ. One has no difficulty in imagining 
the scene as he entered into the gates of the City yesterday. One may 
almost see him smile as he found it all as he had believed — only a better 
place for himself and a far greater welcome for himself than he had ever 

Truly may we say of him: "For me to live is Christ; to die is gain." 

Funeral services for Pullen were held on Saturday afternoon, May 3, 
1913. He had expressed his wish that his service be a simple one, and 
it was that. The pastor, A. V. Joyner, was assisted by Dr. T. W. 
O'Kelly, pastor of First Baptist Church; the Reverend Livingston 
Johnson, General Secretary of the Baptist State Convention; and the 
Reverend William McWhite, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church. 
At the church the choir sang "O Love That Will not Let Me Go," 
"Asleep in Jesus," and "Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand." At 
the graveside they sang "Christian Goodnight" and "Face to Face." 
Both the service at the church and the graveside service in Oakwood 
Cemetery were attended by people from all walks of life. Baker noted 
that "Few men were ever followed to their grave in Raleigh by so 
representative people as Mr. Pullen was. The rich, the poor and the 
lowly hearted bowed low." (p. 14) In keeping with his desire for sim- 
plicity, Pullen's simple tombstone has on it, besides his name, the 
date of his birth, and the date of his death, only the words "Saved by 

For nearly two weeks following Pullen's death each issue of the 
News and Observer carried tributes to him. Colonel Fred Olds, 
founder of the State Hall of History, wrote about him as a prison 
worker; Joseph Brown, president of the Citizens' National Bank, 
wrote of him as a banker; N. B. Broughton, of Edwards and 
Broughton, and a leading Baptist layman, wrote of his work for tem- 
perance; John N. Cole, a Methodist minister, wrote of him as a Chris- 
tian worker; Charles Meserve, President of Shaw University, wrote of 
his "Deep Concern for the Colored People"; C. B. Edwards wrote of 
him as a citizen of the city and the state; and Hight C. Moore, editor 
of the Biblical Recorder, wrote of his work among Baptists. The long 
series culminated in the suggestion that a fund be established to create 
a memorial for Pullen. Contributions to that fund ultimately helped 
to provide a home for the nurses of Rex Hospital. 


In conference on Wednesday, May 7, 1913, the congregation of 
Fayetteville Street Baptist Church adopted the following resolution: 

The members of the Fayetteville Street Baptist Church feel their loss 
too deeply to be content with the words we could speak in regard to our 
beloved Mr. Pullen. We can, from our hearts, extend sympathy to his 
relatives, and pray that the memory of his life may rest on them like a 

To those who will miss him most, those to whom he ministered, we 
would speak a word of comfort and point them to the Giver of every 
good and perfect gift. 

We would pray that some portion of his spirit may abide with us and 
help us to carry on the work that he commenced. We would that these 
broken expressions be recorded in our minutes as a record of our lasting 
appreciation of the gentle spirit who loved and labored among us. 

Then a motion to change the name of the congregation from "Fayet- 
teville Street Baptist Church" to "Pullen Memorial Baptist Church" 
was passed unanimously. 

Pullen had willed to the church all of the real estate which he 
owned in the city of Raleigh. The appropriate paragraph of his will 

I give and bequeath to the Trustees of the Fayetteville Street Baptist 
Church of Raleigh, N.C. and their successors in Office all of my real 
estate located in Raleigh, N.C. The said Trustees to use all the income 
arriving from the property for the benefit of the Church in carrying on 
the work. If at any time the Trustees with the consent of the Church 
Conference desire to purchase a lot and erect another church they are 
authorized to sell any or all of the property devised to them by this my 
will and buy the lot and erect the church. If the Trustees desire at any 
time to enlarge the present church they are authorized to sell a portion 
of the property to enlarge it. 

The months following Pullen's death were crucial for the congrega- 
tion. So closely were he and the church linked that to many his death 
was almost tantamount to the death of the church. Without intending 
to do so, he had dominated the church. His was the word of wisdom 
when any important decision was to be made. He was the one upon 
whom they could rely whenever they needed money. He was the great 
philanthropist and lay preacher-evangelist for whom Fayetteville 
Street Church was the base of operations. No pastor overshadowed 
him, and all depended upon him. Because he was the benevolent 
patriarch of the congregation, his death left the congregation at a loss 
like sheep without a shepherd. 

One year after Pullen's death the church held a memorial service for 
him. The News and Observer for Monday morning, May 4, 1914, 
reported the event in full detail, including the following summary: 


Special music was rendered by the Choir, including some of the 
hymns which were Mr. Pullen's favorites. The pastor read from Deuter- 
onomy the account of the death of Moses, and a passage of Scripture 
from the book of Joshua, both of which were appropriate to the occa- 
sion. Talks were made by a number of the members of the church, and 
the pastor closed the exercise by a short talk on "How to Perpetuate His 

T. W. Blake spoke of his "Personal Reminiscences of John T. 
Pullen," and W. I. Sawyer recalled "Mr. Pullen as the Friend of the 
Average Man." There were impromptu speeches by George F. Ball, 
Dr. C. F. Meserve, and S. A. Sutton. At the conclusion of the service 
the church decided "to make an annual affair of the memorial exer- 
cises in honor of the man whose life was spent in doing good and in 
befriending the poor of the city." (N&O, 5/4/14) 

Although in the long run the property which Pullen had willed to 
the church was an asset, immediately it proved to be a liability. The 
houses were in bad repair and some were unoccupied because they 
were in such poor condition. The church borrowed $1500 to get them 
into shape, but, according to Baker, "There was no income ever real- 
ized from this property until it was sold." (p. 24) In addition to that 
added expense, for a variety of reasons the financial contributions to 
the church began to fall off. 

The church had been established in a residential area and drew 
most of its membership from the white working-class people who 
lived there. In the second decade of the twentieth century, however, 
that area was in transition. Business establishments were beginning to 
expand and the white residents were moving out. By the time of 
Pullen's death most of them were gone. The people who continued to 
attend the services of the church came from widely scattered sections 
of the city. 

Under the circumstances it is not surprising that the pastor would 
be open to a call from another church. On Monday, October 12, 1914, 
the News and Observer headlined its religion section with the news, 
"Rev. A. V. Joyner, Pastor, Resigns." The report included the observa- 
tion: "His work here has been eminently satisfactory and he will be 
remembered in Raleigh as a young preacher of great power and prom- 
ise. As a man he has made many friends and won a warm place in the 
hearts of many in his church and out of it." The Biblical Recorder for 
October 14, 1914, stated: 

After two years of diligent, acceptable, and successful service as pastor 
of Pullen Memorial Church, this city, Rev. A. V. Joyner, on last Sunday 
morning tendered his resignation in order to accept the pastorate of our 
First Church in Waynesville. Not only the membership of his loyal 
flock, but also the people of Raleigh are very fond of Pastor Joyner and 
his wife. 


The church was not long without a pastor. Walter H. Dodd, a 
native of Wake County who for several years had been doing evangel- 
istic work in Georgia, accepted a call from the church and began his 
work early in March, 1915. In his sermon on Sunday morning, March 
15, using Acts 10:29 as his text, he gave an indication of the kind of 
emphases which were to be expected from him: 

I come to your call said the speaker and without asking questions as to 
what your ideal of a church and pastor is. Mr. Dodd declared that the 
whole plan would be a failure at this place without the prayers and 
support of his people. Mr. Dodd spoke strongly of the Womans' Mis- 
sionary Society, the Baptist Young Peoples' Union and other auxilia- 
ries, and stated that the great need of the church is the enlistment of its 
members in active Christian work co-operating with the pastor, and if 
this is done, said the speaker, the joys of the present are merely a fore- 
taste of the perfect glory we will experience. 

Dodd was at Pullen for less than a year, remaining only through 
December, 1915. In spite of the changed environment of the church, 
he seems to have tried to carry on the same kind of work that the 
congregation had been accustomed to in earlier years. The fact that he 
left without having received a call from another church suggests that 
the problems of the congregation had not been resolved. 

During Dodd's tenure two of the leading members of the congrega- 
tion died. George Ball, who died on July 4, 1915, had made a signifi- 
cant contribution through his work with the Sunday school, through 
music, and through recreational activities. Baker spoke fondly about 
his "most happy disposition and his love for Children and young 
people," remembering particularly his involvement in the annual 
Sunday school picnic. His description of these affairs gives a feel for 
the life of the church: 

We would secure many vans, wagons, and buggys and bicycles. We 
would move up Fayetteville Street from the Church a singing happy 
band of people. It attracted the attention of our whole city. . . . The 
procession some time would be more than a mile long. We would go 
out to the river or some pond and there play games and many other 
attractions and Bro. Ball was at his best on these excursions. He ran a 
store on Smithfield Street. He roasted peanuts and sold them to other 
merchants. On these occasions he would load up his large covered 
wagon with small bags of peanuts to give away on the picnic grounds. 
Bro. Ball with his white apron, making lemonade and yelling for peo- 
ple to come and get it and all of it was free. In Heaven I am sure the 
Bro. Ball is still making people happy, (p. 25) 

A year and a half later Thomas W. Blake died. Blake was one of the 
five charter members of the church and had always been involved in 
all aspects of the life of the congregation. Like John Pullen, he was a 


bachelor who found the church in a real sense to be his family. He 
was also active with both the Masons and the Odd Fellows. He was a 
charter member of Raleigh's volunteer fire department, and had been 
fire chief of the city of Raleigh. A merchant by occupation, he oper- 
ated a jewelry store on Fayetteville Street, a half-block from the Capi- 
tal. In reporting on his funeral service, the Raleigh Times called him 
"a man whom the city honored, irrespective of creed, and against 
whom no protest were ever raised, for he was man's friend and God's 
servant." (12/6/15) 

Shortly after Dodd's resignation, Pullen Memorial called Lyman K. 
Dilts to become its pastor. On Wednesday, March 22, the Biblical 
Recorder reported: 

The call was extended last Wednesday night and the acceptance an- 
nounced last Sunday. The new Pastor is a native of Summitville, Ind. 
He studied at Franklin College and at a Chicago law school. Some years 
ago he came to the Baptists from the Methodists. For two years he was 
pastor of the Baptist Church at Martinsville, Ind. He then served the 
church at Belleview, Ohio, for a time. Coming South he located a few 
months ago in Raleigh and engaged in the sale of law books. He sup- 
plied two or three Sundays at Pullen Memorial and the call resulted. 
He is married and has two children. He is hopeful in his new work. 
Dilts was an impressive preacher, and the News and Observer often 
referred to his eloquence. The report on the February 27, 1916, ser- 
mon said: "The preacher, in words well chosen and at times surpass- 
ing eloquent, sketched the life of this Man of Sorrows." On the fol- 
lowing Sunday "The preacher sketched with master strokes of word 
painting an outline of the hopeless condition of Jerusalem." On the 
next Sunday 

Mr. Dilts was greeted by two large congregations at the morning and 
evening services. His sermons have been inspiring and most interesting. 
Throughout the evening service there was the most rapt stillness and 
remarkable attention. The power of his preaching is being felt 
throughout the church life and the congregations grow larger at each 
service. (N8cO, 3/13/16) 
His sermon on June 30 was termed "powerful and convincing." 

Apparently Dilts was not afraid to speak his mind on topics that 
might be controversial. At that time Billy Sunday, with his spectacu- 
lar antics in the pulpit, was gaining national attention and his 
methods were being imitated by countless numbers of lesser lights. 
On Sunday, May 7, 1916, Dilts rapped "circus methods in the pulpit." 
According to the News and Observer, he "proceded to pay his re- 
spects, in no uncertain terms, to what he described as circus methods 
in the pulpit for purposes of notoriety." He went on to say: 

In this age there seems to be a tendency toward band-wagon methods in 
the churches and in the pulpits. What its purpose may be is not clear to 
my mind. Whether for the purpose of attracting crowds to the church or 
attention to the preacher I do not know, but this I do know — a band 


wagon almost always leads to a circus if you follow it far enough, and 
usually it is preceeded and followed by a clown. The pulpit of the 
church of the Living God, as I see it, is the place for which His saving 
grace should be proclaimed to men; and when it is used as a platform 
from which to promulgate individual ideas on social problems, lectures 
on morality, individual codes of personal living or the preacher's per- 
sonal ideas as to long faces or short skirts, it is missing its opportunity 
to a large extent. 

Another example of Dilts' forthrightness was his speaking to what 
he considered a great injustice in a notorious murder trial. In Central 
Prison he visited two men awaiting execution and found some reason 
to wonder whether they were guilty. Perhaps his legal training 
prompted his interest in the matter. At any rate, he went to Graham 
county, where the murder had been committed, did some investigat- 
ing of his own, and then examined the reports of the trial. He con- 
cluded to his own satisfaction that a grave injustice had been done to 
the men. He first expressed his doubts in a sermon at Pullen. Then in 
a public worship service at the Y.M.C.A. on the campus of State Col- 
lege on Sunday evening, September 24, he gave his reasons for believ- 
ing as he did. Whether he met criticism for his public affirmation of 
his views we do not know. At the beginning of a revival meeting at 
Pullen on October 29, however, he declared: 

God help the preacher who will preach only the gospel his congrega- 
tion will allow. . . . When I can no longer be true to my call to the 
ministry and to the method God intended for me to preach the gospel, 
then I'm going to get clear out of it and go back on the road selling 
books. (N&O, 10/30/16) 

Dilts remained with the church for a year. In spite of the large con- 
gregations who came to the services, the church was having such 
financial troubles that it could not pay the pastor. Dilts, therefore, 
found it necessary to resign and conclude his work with the church on 
January 1, 1917. 

As the financial crisis deepened, the church leaders thought it wise 
to turn to the other Raleigh Baptists for help in deciding what to do. 
In April, 1917, a meeting was held at the Raleigh Y.M.C.A. to which 
the other Baptist churches were asked to send representatives. Approx- 
imately thirty people gathered to discuss the matter in detail. The 
group agreed to call for another session to be held two weeks later in 
Pullen Memorial Church. The church had already been discussing 
informally the question of whether it should move to another loca- 
tion. The entire congregation was, therefore, notified that at that 
second meeting that issue would be considered. One hundred and 
twenty-six members attended, and the question of a move was dis- 
cussed in detail. Baker says that "It was consensus of opinion in this 
meeting that our Church should be moved to West Raleigh." (p. 28) 


Dr. Rufus Hunter and Mr. W. N. Jones, representing First Baptist, 
suggested that First Baptist might give to Pullen for that purpose two 
lots in Cameron Park which their church owned. At that meeting no 
vote was taken, but clearly the sentiment for the move was not 
unanimous. The question of the use of the property then occupied by 
the church was raised. Some people suggested the possibility of main- 
taining a mission there after the church had moved. Finally a com- 
mittee of representatives from Pullen and First Baptist was appointed 
to look into the entire matter. 

After that meeting all members of Pullen Memorial Church were 
notified that a vote on the question of moving to West Raleigh would 
be taken at the next regular conference of the church. Approximately 
sixty persons attended that next conference. After lengthy discussion, 
those present voted unanimously to make the move. It was also 
decided at that time to sell the real estate that had been willed to the 
church by John Pullen and to use the proceeds for making the move. 
When that property was sold in 1918 and 1919 it brought approxi- 
mately $28,000. 

With these major decisions having been made, the future of the 
church seemed secure. According to Baker, several "influential fami- 
lies" joined the church in anticipation of the move. Baker named 
"J. J. Bernard and Family, R. L. Horton and Family, A. G. Nowell 
and Family, E. G. Green and Family, L. R. Gilbert and Family, 
W. H. Penny and Family." (p. 29) 

The next step for the church was to call a pastor. The Biblical 
Recorder for June 6, 1917, reported: 

We are happy to say that Rev. R. D. Stephenson, of Mullins, S.C., has 
accepted the call to the pastorate of Pullen Memorial Church, this city, 
and is expected to enter upon his new work about the first of July. 
Brother Stephenson is a native of the West Chowan region and was 
brought up under the ministry of such men as Elder C. W. Scarbor- 
ough, of Murfreesboro. He graduated at Wake Forest College a few 
years ago and we believe took a course at our Louisville Seminary. He is 
a strong, well equipped, consecrated young minister whom we are most 
happy to welcome back to the home State. We anticipate for him a very 
useful ministry in Raleigh. 

Stephenson remained with Pullen for only nine months, however, 
leaving in March, 1918, to accept a church in Portsmouth, Virginia. 

For a year and a half the church had no strong pastoral leadership. 
J. A. Davis, a student at Wake Forest College, preached for the con- 
gregation until September, 1918, but seems to have had no other 
responsibilities with the church. In January and February, 1919, the 
church had a series of outstanding public figures occupy the pulpit: 
Lieutenant Governor O. Max Gardner; Dr. Hubert Poteat from Wake 
Forest College; State Senator A. M. Scales; D. G. Brummitt, Speaker 


of the House of Representatives; and State Senator Joseph Brown. 
Who else occupied the pulpit is not known, but the lay leadership 
was strong enough to keep the church functioning. 

In April and May, 1919, the evangelist "Cyclone Mack" McLendon 
conducted a five-week revival in Raleigh. His campaign was not a 
project of the local churches; like the other big-time evangelists, he 
planned his own itinerary and conducted his own campaigns entirely 
independently of the local churches. His advance people moved in to 
provide publicity, then he came and set up his tent on the corner of 
Lane and Bloodworth streets. And the people came by the thousands. 
Three weeks after he began his campaign the News and Observer 

Two thousand yesterday morning, five thousand yesterday afternoon 
and ten thousand last night, a grand total of seventeen thousand men, 
women, and children, heard Evangelist McLendon on the opening day 
of his fourth week in Raleigh. Of this number, fifteen hundred made 
the pledge to stand with Jesus and fight on the winning side. (N&O, 

Mack was certainly aware of the criticism which was frequently 
leveled against him wherever he went. One evening, according to the 
News and Observer, he 

expressed deep appreciation for the encouragement he has received dur- 
ing the progress of the meetings here. He reminded the congregation 
that he had heard less criticism in Raleigh of his revival than in any of 
the many places he has held meetings. (N&O, 4/21/19) 

If the numbers reported in the newspapers are correct, then surely 
everyone in Raleigh and the surrounding area must have attended at 
least one service. There is no evidence in the newspapers, however, 
that the local religious leadership in any way supported his cam- 
paign. Neither is there any tangible evidence that the churches were 
affected by those thousands of people who made decisions for Christ. 

Beginning on Monday night, May 30, 1919, Dr. Charles E. Maddry, 
of the University Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, conducted an 
eight-day series of services at Pullen. Several of his sermons were 
reported in the News and Observer, and they seem to have been 
intended to renew the members of the church more than to win con- 
verts. Seven people, however, were baptized at the conclusion of that 
series. According to Baker, the church minutes for May 29 state: "Our 
church has been greatly edified, blessed and built up by the coming 
into our midst of Dr. Charles E. Maddry." Baker quotes them further: 
"The results of his coming cannot be recorded in words. The excel- 
lent soul stirring gospel sermons caused all who were Christians to 
desire to live better and more useful lives, caused the indifferent to 
want to live nearer their Savior, and many renewed their vows and 


many professed faith in Jesus Christ." (p. 29) This summary suggests 
that there were not the mass additions to the church that had charac- 
terized the revivals of earlier periods, and that many people had come 
to think of as the marks of success. That kind of result could not 
realistically have been expected, in light of the changed circumstances 
of the church. Maddry's impact upon the congregation, however, was 
to provide the kind of inner renewal which they needed at that time. 
So well did they respond to him that in a called conference held on 
the Sunday morning following his visit they voted to extend an invi- 
tation to him to become their pastor! (N&O, 6/9/19) While Maddry 
did not accept the invitation, the congregation's response to him is 
indicative of the turn that the church was beginning to take. 

In a meeting held on Tuesday, August 6, 1919, J. A. Ellis was called 
by the church, and he accepted that call. He began his ministry at 
Pullen on the first Sunday in September. A native of Chowan County, 
he was a graduate of Wake Forest College and of the Southern Baptist 
Theological Seminary. He was pastor of the First Baptist Church of 
Dunn when the United States entered World War I. Although he had 

J. A. Ellis 
Minister 1919-1929 


been there for only seven months, he volunteered for the army chap- 
laincy and the church granted him a leave of absence "for the dura- 
tion of the war." (BR, 2/20/18) When he was released from the serv- 
ice, however, circumstances did not warrant his returning to Dunn. 

Dr. Ellis' coming to Pullen was a propitious event. Almost imme- 
diately things began to look better. He was an able preacher, a good 
pastor, and an efficient administrator. Attendance at the services 
increased significantly, and new members came in imposing numbers. 
In October the church authorized a committee, consisting of the pas- 
tor, R. L. Horton, and W. P. Baker, "to draw up plans for the 
Cameron Park Church." The Biblical Recorder reported, seven 
months after Ellis' arrival: 

Pullen Memorial Church, Raleigh, is rapidly coming to the front. A 
few months ago the church collection was about 40 a Sunday. Now the 
collection is from $110 to $125 a Sunday. Dr. Ellis' salary was increased 
recently from $2,400 to $3,000. Since Dr. Ellis came to the church, about 
sixty members have been added. Mr. McMichael has been selected archi- 
tect for the new church building in West Raleigh, and plans are now 
under consideration. The church music, superintended by Mr. Herman 
Senter, has been improved greatly. The services are attended by a great 
many. Dr. Ellis is preaching powerful sermons. The Sunday school, 
with the first Sunday collection, supports two orphans. This past Sun- 
day there were 228 present with a collection of $41.50. R. L. McMillan, 
a young lawyer who has recently located in Raleigh, is suprintendent of 
the Sunday school. Mr. McMillan is one of Scotland County's "Sun- 
burnt Boys." (BR, 3/31/20) 

In 1919, following the meeting of the Southern Baptist Conven- 
tion, the denomination launched a five-year program, known as 
"The Seventy-Five Million Campaign," to provide money for greatly 
increased support for all Southern Baptist missionary, educational, 
and benevolent work. It was an overly-ambitious plan with a goal 
which the Baptists did not reach. They did raise some $58 million, 
however. Pullen Memorial had sent Ellis to the Convention, and he 
returned full of enthusiasm for the plan. In October, therefore, the 
church asked W. P. Baker to coordinate the efforts to raise the $16,650 
which it had accepted as its goal. On December 1, 1919, the News and 
Observer reported that, like the other Baptist churches in the city, 
Pullen Memorial "will meet its allotment." 

At the end of 1919 the church was prospering under the leadership 
of an enthusiastic and able pastor and of some strong lay people. It 
was optimistically making plans for its move to a more suitable loca- 
tion. It was a part of a denomination that was looking to the future 
with a sense of a new mission in a world now "safe for democracy." 
Having recovered from the loss of its "patron saint," it had decided 
what to do about its own future. 


Chapter 4 

A Church With A New Mission 

In An Era of Boom and Bust 


While Pullen Memorial Baptist Church was confidently undertak- 
ing a new ministry in a different section of the city, the nation was 
troubled. President Woodrow Wilson had suffered a severe stroke on 
October 2, 1919, and almost died. Because of his inability to give lead- 
ership at the crucial moment, his political opponents carried the day 
and Congress refused to authorize American membership in the 
League of Nations. 

Although the 1920's are generally characterized as "roaring," a bet- 
ter term might be "turbulent." The scandals of the Harding adminis- 
tration were accompanied by a peace treaty with Germany that actu- 
ally laid the foundations for later problems in Europe. Coolidge gave 
the country honest government and efficient administration, but the 
masses of people felt no need to pay much attention to government. 
They were free to concentrate on making money, on amusing them- 
selves, and occasionally on matters of race and religion. The Eight- 
eenth Amendment had been ratified in 1919, and as of January 1, 
1920, the domestic manufacture and sale of intoxicating beverages was 
prohibited. In 1920 the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, at long 
last giving women the right to vote. Veterans of the Great War were 
organizing to win concessions from the government. At the same 
time, organized labor was suffering severe reverses, losing member- 
ship and, therefore, losing power. 


On the international scene, the world was taking a new shape. 
Mussolini seized power in Rome in 1922. In that same year the Union 
of Soviet Socialist Republics was formed. The Irish Free State was 
proclaimed in 1921, the British protectorate over Egypt ended in 1922, 
and also in 1922 Mustafa Kemal became dictator of Turkey. Hitler 
began his rise to power in Germany in the early '20's. In the late '20's 
Chiang Kai-shek was emerging as the man in control of China. From 
1929 Ghandi was conducting his civil disobedience campaign in 

The United States experienced a business recession in 1920, but 
fairly quickly the nation recovered and the period 1922-29 was the 
"boom years." There was a phenomenal expansion in the automobile 
industry, in the production of electric power, in the manufacture and 
distribution of electrical equipment, and in transportation of goods 
and passengers by air. Entertainment became a major industry, and 
the names of radio personalities and movie stars became household 
words. It is estimated that in 1922 people in some three million Amer- 
ican homes listened to broadcasts of music, sports, news, comedy 
skits, and "messages from the sponsor." At the same time weekly 
attendance at the movies reached an estimated 110 million. Attend- 
ance at professional sporting events set new marks every year. The 
publishing of novels and of periodicals boomed, with much of that 
literature devoted to "escape," but some representing a real flowering 
of American literature. 

For the black population, the 1920's were not so gay. The NAACP 
had fought unsuccessfully to establish for blacks the right to vote and 
to secure federal antilynching legislation. Giving up on any hope for 
progress under the existing system, many blacks rallied round Marcus 
Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association, which 
planned a wholesale movement "back to Africa." Black literary fig- 
ures like Langston Hughes and James Weldon Johnson gave voice to 
a tremendous discontent, but few whites listened. 

Meanwhile the Ku Klux Klan grew in membership and influence. 
While it had been revived as an organization in 1915, its greatest 
growth came in the early 1920's. By 1924 there were four million 
Klansmen in the United States. It had members all over the South and 
in many states outside the South. In many places some prominent 
political figures openly acknowledged their membership, and in few 
places did political figures dare challenge the Klan. Though its mem- 
bership declined after 1927, it remained a force in the life of the South 
until the outbreak of World War II. 

One movement of the 1920's deserves special attention. That was 
the campaign of the religious fundamentalists against the teaching of 
evolution in the schools. Anti-evolution bills were introduced in the 


legislatures of more than a dozen states, though only in Tennessee did 
one actually pass. Almost immediately after its passage, it was chal- 
lenged by John Thomas Scopes, a high school teacher in Dayton, 
Tennessee. Legal action was taken against him, with William Jen- 
nings Bryan helping the prosecution and the American Civil Liberties 
Union employing Clarence Darrow to defend Scopes. Although 
Scopes was convicted, the Tennessee Supreme Court reversed the 

In religion, the decade of the 1920's was a period of change. Sharing 
the optimism of the period, churches erected new buildings by the 
hundreds. Radio preachers became well known, with Harry Emerson 
Fosdick, of Riverside Church in New York City, becoming the best- 
known minister in America. That was no small accomplishment, in 
light of the fact that Billy Sunday was still preaching to people by the 

The churches reacted in different ways to the changing cultural 
climate in the United States. The Roman Catholic Church tried to 
resist challenges to traditional beliefs and practices by strengthening 
its parochial school system. It produced a new codification of canon 
law in an effort to guarantee unity in belief and practice. It launched 
a missionary movement in traditionally non-Catholic areas of the 
country, such as the South, and reached out to traditionally non- 
Catholic ethnic groups, such as the blacks. 

The Protestant reaction to the changing cultural climate was 
divided, and a theological battle emerged between liberalism and fun- 
damentalism. The liberals tried to come to grips with modern scien- 
tific thought by restating historical theological views, modifying their 
positions in such a way as to try to resolve any conflict between 
science and religion. Consequently they became less authoritarian in 
their view of the Bible, the church, and tradition, and more open to 
the methods of science, philosophy, and critical history. The social 
gospel movement, associated with theological liberalism, began to 
interpret the Kingdom of God as a sort of perfect social order which 
might be created in this world. The movement addressed both organ- 
ized labor and the race problem. Its greatest attention, however, was 
focused on the problem of war, and many of the social gospel leaders 
were pacifist. 

The other division of Protestantism was, in a sense, a reaction to 
the growth of liberalism. A number of church leaders, particularly 
among the Presbyterians and the Baptists, were convinced that the 
denominations had been captured by liberals whom they thought had 
abandoned the true gospel. In 1919 they had organized the World's 
Christian Fundamentals Association, under the leadership of three 
Baptist ministers: William Bell Riley, John Roach Straton, and 


Jasper C. Massee. Massee had served in a number of Baptist churches 
in the South, including Tabernacle Baptist in Raleigh (1903-1908), 
before he had gone to Tremont Temple in Boston. Among Presbyter- 
ians the leadership was furnished by a layman, William Jennings 
Bryan, and by J. Gresham Machen, of the faculty of Princeton Theo- 
logical Seminary. 

The struggle between the liberals and the fundamentalists was 
nationwide, and all of the major denominations felt its impact. Its 
effect was not felt as profoundly in the South as elsewhere, however, 
perhaps because the churches in that region were essentially conserva- 
tive. They had not been as much influenced by the liberal movement 
as had the churches elsewhere, and, therefore, the reactionary funda- 
mentalism was not as militant. The one point at which it did become 
a factor in southern religious life was on the issue of the teaching of 

By the end of the decade the American churches were experiencing 
a noticeable decline. One reason for the decline was the funda- 
mentalist-liberal controversy. Another was the carefree attitude that 
characterized our nation just before the stock market crash. Yet 
another reason was a growing awareness that the sense of urgency 
which had taken thousands of missionaries into other lands might 
have been a reflection of American "imperialism," and that the dream 
of winning "the world for Christ in this generation" was totally 

The story of Raleigh in the 1920's is the story of the nation writ 
small. Like the rest of the union, Raleigh experienced a period of 
prosperity, growth, and general optimism. Large-scale construction 
projects were undertaken, new businesses were established, and the 
population grew by nearly fifty percent. Government mushroomed 
and new buildings were erected to house new services. The public 
school system was expanded and improved, N.C. State grew in size 
and in status, and Meredith College outgrew its facilities and moved 
to a new campus on the edge of the city. By the end of the decade 
there were half a dozen movie houses in Raleigh, and in 1926 the first 
commercial radio station in the city went on the air. 

The bubble burst in 1929. The stock market crash was followed by 
years of the most serious depression the nation has ever known. All of 
America was affected by it, and Raleigh was no exception. The build- 
ing industry virtually disappeared. Even before the crash there had 
been a consolidation of some banks and the closing of others. The 
ones that survived were in danger by 1930. Manufacturing declined, 
retail sales declined, unemployment shot up, and Raleigh, like the 
rest of the nation, was in deep trouble. 


The churches were not immune to the distress felt by all other 
social institutions. Budgets were significantly reduced and rarely met. 
Programs were curtailed or eliminated. Some local churches that had 
never been strong were forced to close. The main-line denominations 
suffered more than the smaller ones, partly because their well-being 
was more tied in with the economic system and with "the American 
way of life." The smaller sects, on the other hand, because they were 
more closely identified with the poor and disinherited, tended to mul- 
tiply. They were able to function without spending a great deal of 
money. In addition, in a time of despair their escapist theology held 
out hope for a better world to come. 

Jack Ellis had begun his work at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church 
in September, 1919, at the beginning of the "boom" era. A little more 
than a year after his arrival the church building was destroyed by fire. 
The alarm was sounded at 10:45 p.m. on April 22, 1921, and Raleigh's 
entire fire fighting force and equipment were brought out to battle 
the blaze. The fire spread to the Wake County Clinic next door, but 
the firemen managed to extinguish that blaze before significant dam- 
age was done. Within forty-five minutes after the fire was discovered 
the church building was gone. The loss was estimated at well over 

The fire forced the church to implement at once a decision that had 
been made some four years earlier. The church had decided at that 
time to move to west Raleigh. The John Pullen estate had been sold 
in 1918 and 1919 with the expectation that the proceeds from the sale 
would be used to implement the decision. Ellis had come as pastor 
expecting in due season to lead the church in its building program. 
The period after his arrival had been one of renewal and growth. 
Attendance at the services had improved, membership had grown, 
and the offerings for the work of the church had increased signifi- 
cantly. The church was proceeding deliberately, perhaps even slowly, 
in making preparations for the move. Then came the fire and the 
church was forced to find a place to meet. 

The church received a number of offers of temporary quarters 
where it could hold its services. For two Sundays the congregation 
met in the Centennial School building, just across the street from the 
ruins of their old sanctuary. Then, to be near the location where they 
were to erect their new building, they began on May 8 to hold services 
in Pullen Hall on the campus of State College. They remained there 
until they moved into their new building two years later. The News 
and Observer reported on Monday, May 9, 1921: 

The Rev. J. A. Ellis, pastor, states that plans for the new building 
are proceeding rapidly, and that a campaign for funds will be started in 
the near future. The services in the memorial hall yesterday were largely 
attended, there being several additions to the church membership. 


Meanwhile, the proposal for the operation of a mission at the old 
site was implemented. A committee from Pullen Memorial, Taber- 
nacle, and First Baptist churches was appointed to draw up plans for 
the work "in the southern part of the city formerly served by the 
Pullen Memorial Church." The committee dreamed of somthing 
other than a traditional church. According to the News and Observer, 
"Plans for the structure may include recreational and community 
work as well as religious work. Plans are under consideration for 
using the building somewhat on the order of a community center as 
well as a religious center." (N&O, 6/6/21) It was expected that all 
three of the Baptist churches would maintain the mission. Pullen 
Memorial, however, expressed greater interest in the project than did 
the others. Not only did the congregation pass another resolution 
favoring the establishment of the mission, but even though the con- 
gregation was holding its regular services at Pullen Hall on the cam- 
pus of State College, it also maintained a Sunday school in the Cen- 
tennial School building. When time came to erect a facility for the 
mission, consideration was given to other sites. The decision was 
made, however, to build on the same spot. According to Baker (p. 37), 
it was thought that that site was "the most convenient location for 
the white people in that section." Pullen Memorial Church donated 
the lot and provided $5,000 toward the construction of the new build- 
ing. Baker noted (p. 32) that "This building (is) to be used for reli- 
gious purposes only." That was Pullen 's response to the idea of 
building a community center. 

As we have observed, not all of the members of Pullen Memorial 
Church had approved the decision to move from Fayetteville Street. 
That fact certainly influenced the decision of the church to make such 
a large contribution to another group building on the spot which 
Pullen had just vacated. The News and Observer reported on Febru- 
ary 12, 1923, that 

After the Pullen Memorial congregation voted to abandon the site of 
the church established by the late John T. Pullen and to erect a fine 
church building in Cameron Park or West Raleigh, a few members of 
the old church, going beyond the plans for a mere mission at that 
point, established a church, gave it the name of the Southside Baptist 
Church, and called to its pastorate Dr. W. D. Hubbard, a minister well 
known in Southern Baptist circles. 

On Sunday, April 23, 1922, just one year after the fire, and nearly a 
year before Pullen Memorial entered its new building, the mission 
began services in its new building. Within a few months it was organ- 
ized as the "Southside Baptist Church," and years later its name was 
changed to Calvary Baptist Church. 


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: ' ~ • - '< '■ Mil 

Pullen Memorial Baptist Church 

Pullen Memorial Church continued to hold services in Pullen Hall 
on the campus of State College until Sunday, February 11, 1923. On 
that day the church held its first service in its just-completed Sunday 
school plant, located on the corner of Hillsboro and Cox streets. The 
lot, which had belonged to the L. T. Yarborough family, was pur- 
chased with the proceeds from the sale of the two lots in Cameron 
Park donated by the First Baptist Church. Nelson and Cooper, the 
architects for the new building, had designed a facility to which the 
sanctuary could later be conveniently added. The church owed only 
$20,000 on the new building which had cost a total of $75,000. The 
News and Observer described the new building: 

The church structure will eventually join the blank wall that now 
faces Hillsboro street. The Sunday school wing, three stories with a 
sub-basement, has an auditorium which will seat 300 persons and will 
be used for both Sunday school and church purposes until the comple- 
tion of the main auditorium. In all, thirty-five Sunday school rooms 
provide for all classes. (N&O, 2/12/23) 

The plans for constructing a new sanctuary, however, did not mate- 
rialize for many years. It was not until 1938 that serious efforts were 
made to undertake the project, and those efforts were cut short by the 
entrance of the United States into World War II. 


After the move to Hillsborough Street, the membership of Pullen 
Memorial Church grew significantly. When Ellis became pastor in 
1919, the church had lost some members to other churches, and there 
were only 101 active members. Soon after Ellis' coming, as we have 
seen, there was such an increase that the church's letter to the Associa- 
tion in 1920 reported 220 members. Thereafter there was steady 
growth, and in the last year of Ellis' pastorate the membership had 
risen to 417. After Ellis' departure and the coming of Edwin McNeill 
Poteat, Jr., as pastor, the membership leveled off, generally fluctuat- 
ing between 400 and 450. 

The Sunday school also experienced significant growth during the 
period. In 1919 the enrollment was only 168, lower than it had been at 
any time since 1906. But in one year it rose to 318, and thereafter grew 
steadily until it reached a peak of 659 in 1928. For several years after 
that it was usually in the 600's. For eight years during that period of 
growth, beginning in 1920, R. L. McMillan was superintendent of the 
Sunday school. Baker says that J. Henry Highsmith was "Educational 
Director" in 1920, although he gives no details of Highsmith's work, 
(p. 31) Then he says that "In January 1922 Mr. C. H. Warren began 
his work as Educational Director." (p. 33) He does not report how 
long Warren remained in that capacity. 

Another organizational development was the formation of a Boy 
Scout troop. The troop was organized on November 23, 1923, with 
W. P. Baker as Scoutmaster. Charter members were Henry Craven, 
Rupert Lechner, Floyd Rigsbee, William Baker, Clarence Horton, 
Dan Stewart, Tom D. Cooper, Luther A. Wood, and Jonathan Lane. 
This troop is still in operation and is the oldest in the Oconeechee 

Pullen Memorial Church moved to its new location on Hillsbor- 
ough Street with a definite commitment to a ministry to college stu- 
dents. In June, 1950, E. McNeill Poteat, Jr., then pastor at Pullen, 
prepared a document to be used in requesting help from the Baptist 
State Convention for the completion of its sanctuary. In summarizing 
the history of the move of the church to Hillsborough Street Poteat 

The records concerning the initiation of the proposal of the State 
Board of Missions for the establishment of a church at Hillsboro Street 
and Cox Avenue to provide a spiritual ministry for the students of State 
College are sketchy. It was in the mind of Dr. Walter N. Johnson when 
he was State Secretary but it had its active beginnings under the leader- 
ship of Dr. Charles E. Maddry in 1920. 

The first minutes from the Executive Committee of the State Conven- 
tion occurs April 26, 1921: 

"The Secretary was authorized ... to aid Pullen Memorial in all the 
difficulties of moving." 


That the project was well advanced in the minds of the Executive 
Committee and was a part of a similar program at Chapel Hill and the 
Woman's College in Greensboro is clear from the minutes of the Con- 
vention as printed on page 95 of the 1922 Annual. The paragraph refer- 
ring to Pullen Memorial follows: 

"The Pullen Memorial Church of Raleigh decided to move to West 
Raleigh and built a church and Sunday School house adequate to care 
for the spiritual needs of the great number of Baptist students in A. & E. 
College. The Executive Committee to whom the matter was referred by 
the Board of Missions made an appropriation of $16,000 on the Sunday 
School unit of the church. The Pullen Estate paid some $35,000 toward 
the cost of this building, the State Board $8,000 and the local church 
some $25,000. The building is well arranged for student work and will 
take care of the needs of A. & E. College, until we can complete the 
building at a later date." This last statement makes it quite manifest 
that the Board of Missions was committed to the project and to the 
eventual completion of the entire plant. 

From the time of the decision to move, the church has functioned 
with a definite awareness of its mission to the academic community. 
Jack Ellis was well-equipped to speak to that community in his ser- 
mons and in his total ministry. He preached on contemporary issues 
and represented a religion which was not threatened by the expanding 
frontiers of truth. His successor, Edwin McNeill Poteat, Jr., widely 
recognized and acclaimed as a scholarly young minister, was to 
enlarge on that kind of ministry. 

Shortly after moving into its new building, Pullen Memorial 
Church strengthened its ministry to students by employing a special- 
ized minister to work with them. On June 25, 1923, Dr. Ellis an- 
nounced that R. M. Warren had been employed in that capacity. At 
the end of his summary of the work for 1924, Baker stated, "The work 
of Brother Warren among the students of Meredith, State College and 
the Blind Institute was very effective." (p. 33) Baker, whose history 
concludes with the year 1930, did not refer again to Warren or to any 
other person in the capacity of student worker. 

During the 1920's two significant developments took place in con- 
nection with the Board of Deacons. The first was the decision, made 
in 1927, to institute a rotation in the service of the deacons. Until that 
time a person who was elected deacon served for life. In 1927, how- 
ever, the practice was begun of electing persons to serve four-year 
terms. The recommendation for the change came from the Board of 
Deacons, of which Dr. Z. M. Caviness was chairman. (Church Min- 
utes, December 1 1, 1927) Pullen was not the first church to adopt this 
plan, nor was it the last. Lifetime deacons seem more appropriate to a 
small congregation, where the number of persons from which to 
choose leaders may be limited. Furthermore, as long as John Pullen 
and those stalwarts who had worked with him in establishing the 


church were alive, the rotation of leadership — except in the office of 
pastor — would hardly have seemed feasible. The growth of the 
church, however, and the passing of time, made it apparent that the 
church would benefit from the contributions of a greater number of 
persons serving in that capacity. 

The other change, which was more radical, was determined in the 
same church conference on December 11, 1927. That was the election 
of women to the Board of Deacons. After reporting the approval of 
the plan for the rotation of deacons, the minutes note that 

A further recommendation was that women be elligible [sic] to office 
as deaconness. This was adopted. 

Next the election was entered into. Some fifty men and women were 
nominated. The previous recommendation of the deacons was that six- 
teen deacons be elected. On motion only one ballot was taken, those 
receiving the highest vote to serve for four years, next highest three 
years, third highest two years, fourth highest for one year. 

In that election one woman, Mrs. Gilbert T. Stephenson, was chosen. 
At the next conference, however, Mrs. Stephenson resigned. The offi- 
cial minutes state no reason for her resignation, but the secretary's 
notes from which the minutes were written reveal, in a phrase 
scratched out, that she was sensitive to the fact that she was the only 
woman chosen. Dr. Ellis led the ordination service for the other newly 
elected deacons, and in that service Dr. C. E. Maddry spoke on "the 
duties of deacons." In that address "He also stated that he thought we 
should have deaconesses, that all modern churches were electing 
women to this office." (Minutes, December 21, 1927) The minutes of 
that same session add: 

After Dr. Maddry's talk it was thought by some that we should elect 
some of the women to the office of deaconess, and after considerable 
discussion motion passed that the four ladies receiving the highest votes 
in the preceding election be named as deaconesses. 

Those women were Mrs. Gilbert T. Stephenson, Mrs. L. S. Madison, 
Mrs. Z. M. Caviness, and Mrs. G. H. Ferguson. 

Revival services continued to play a significant part in the life of 
Pullen Memorial during this period, although they ceased to be a 
regular activity. In the earliest years of the church they had occurred 
frequently, sometimes two or more in a year. During Ellis' pastorate 
that was not the case. The immediate increase in membership after his 
coming was not the result of any special evangelistic campaign. There 
was a revival meeting in March, 1923, in which Dr. Charles E. 
Maddry did the preaching, but there are no records of its impact upon 
the church. There was another in October, 1924, five years after Ellis 
became pastor, in which Dr. Zeno Wall, then pastor of the First Bap- 
tist Church of Goldsboro, preached. The Biblical Recorder reported 
on that meeting: 


Dr. Zeno Wall, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Goldsboro, recently 
held a ten days' meeting with Pullen Memorial Church. He preached 
twice daily and I do not hesitate to say that it was one of the very best 
series of sermons that I have ever heard. Dr. Wall ... is a close student 
of the Bible and is preeminently a Bible preacher. His sermons come 
out of the Book. Dr. Wall is a lover of people and along with his own 
eagerness to live on a high spiritual plain he seeks to lead his hearers 
into closer fellowship with the Christ. . . . The number of additions 
were not large, there being but few in attendance who were not church 
members. Ten have been added to our membership thus far. We shall 
receive members along through the months as a result of this meeting. 
(BR, 11/19/24) 

Evangelism at the church's new location was different from what it 
had been on Fayetteville Street. Never again was the traditional "reviv- 
al" to play a part in the life of Pullen. 

A new approach to the Christian witness adapted to the academic 
community was represented by a series of lectures delivered in 1927 by 
Dr. W. L. Poteat, President of Wake Forest College, on "A Scientist's 
View of Religion." In that series Dr. Poteat spoke forthrightly as a 
Christian who knew the scientific method and was entirely at home 
with the scientific world view. His message was intended for the aca- 
demic community, and it was well received by that community. 

During his decade at Pullen, Jack Ellis distinguished himself as a 
preacher. At that time the Raleigh News and Observer carried each 
Monday rather full reports on sermons preached in local churches on 
the preceding Sunday. The paper reported on Ellis two or three times 
a month, and sometimes more frequently. Almost always he used a 
New Testament text as the basis for his message; out of seventy-five 
announced texts, only eight came from the Old Testament. The Gos- 
pel of John apparently was his favorite book, for fourteen of his texts 
came from it. The general tone of his messages was positive, a discus- 
sion of the Christian life rather than a denunciation of sin. Repeat- 
edly as he talked about the Christian life, he specified how he thought 
Christian love might validly be expressed. He placed strong emphasis 
on works as a necessary expression of Christian faith. He also had a 
strong devotional element in his messages, with ideas about the life of 
the spirit frequently appearing. 

One theme which permeated Ellis' sermons was the worth of the 
individual and of the possibilities of individual action. On June 8, 
1924, he preached about helping the person who is "down" or "in the 
wrong." On July 21 of the same year he preached on the text, "How 
much, then, is a man of more value than a sheep" (Matt. 12:12). On 
May 25, 1925, he preached on the text, "Let him who is without sin 
cast the first stone" (John 8:9). Such individualism is consistent with 
traditional Baptist theology. Ellis, however, consistently made an 


emphasis that turned the attention of his hearers away from them- 
selves and toward the worth of and the needs of other persons. 

Frequently Ellis spoke to contemporary issues, almost always tak- 
ing a liberal stand. On June 15, 1924, for example, at the time when 
the Ku Klux Klan had its largest membership in history, and when its 
campaign of intimidation and violence made the news constantly, 
Ellis preached a sermon on the basis of Philippians 3:7 in which he 
said, "Excessive race pride unfitted Saul of Tarsus for large service to 
mankind." He went on to say: 

One of the dangers that imperils the white race is the feeling of super- 
iority, and along with that our failure to remember that where much is 
given much is required, and that unusual gifts and talents impose great 
responsibilities upon either an individual or a race. It took Christianity 
to give Paul the correct estimate of himself and to bring him into the 
right relations with his fellows. When this had been done he became the 
servant of mankind. Christianity and that alone will bring the white 
race, the most richly endowed of all the races, to a sense of obligation to 
the rest of mankind. (N&O, 6/16/24) 

Ellis often spoke about war, urging his congregation to inform 
themselves on international issues and to devote themselves to "the 
things that make for peace." He was an ardent admirer of Woodrow 
Wilson, and on a number of occasions referred to him in his sermons. 
On July 20, 1924, for example, he said: 

Men have not been lifted to higher conceptions of the sacredness of 
human life, and to greater visions of the rights of mankind since Jesus 
was in the world than they were lifted by Woodrow Wilson. He thought 
of men as of more value than sheep. He pointed his fellows to the better 
way, but even his own America was too narrow minded, low visioned 
and selfish to follow his leading. (N&O, 7/21/24) 

At the beginning of his sixth year at Pullen, on September 7, 1924, 
Ellis spoke on Haggai 2:4, "Work: for I am with you, saith Jehovah 
of hosts." At one point in his sermon he said that the words of this 

are spoken to those groups of peoples, churches, civic organizations, 
states and nations when men and women unite their hearts, their 
minds, their hands in that sublime effort of making this world a better 
place for those who come after us. Would that America, our America, 
were sitting yonder as a member of the League of Nations today instead 
of talking about 'Mobilization, Preparedness, and Defense.' (N&O, 

On December 21, 1924, Ellis spoke on the subject of "Peace." 

The greatest question that now faces the human race is the outlawing 
and abolition of war. . . . The greatest curse that has afflicted mankind 
is the plague of war. We passed out of the recent deluge of blood declar- 
ing that it was a war to end war, but during the six years since its close 


greater inventions have been perfected, and more death dealing instru- 
ments made for wholesale slaughter than in any like period in the his- 
tory of the world. Games more deadly than any dreamed of in former 
years, and means more perfect for their spreading than ever before are 
now available. There are experts working on the idea of spreading dis- 
ease germs among the soldiers and the civilians of the enemy that 
would possibly be more widely destructive than gases. 

A bit later in that sermon he said: 

Jesus did not come into the world to accept or approve the evils that 
existed, but to make all things new. The mission of Christianity is not 
to accept and endure the evils that afflict mankind, but to challenge and 
destroy them. 

Let this war to end war begin in the home and the schools. Let the 
text books be disarmed. Let us cease to glorify war and write of war as 
though it were a glorious thing. Let the horrors of war, the unspeakable 
tragedies of war, the desolation that follows in the wake of war be 
known. Let there be a rule among the nations that those who are most 
responsible for the conditions that lead to war be the first sent to the 
front. For the older men to create the conditions and bring on the con- 
flict and then remain in safety while the smooth faced lads are sent into 
the jaws of death to give their lives to settle a dispute the creating of 
which they had nothing to do, this is tragically wrong. Let the first 
draft be for men above forty, let the burden fall heaviest upon those 
who are responsible. (N8cO, 12/22/24) 

On Sunday afternoon, November 8, 1925, Ellis, who was a chaplain 
of Raleigh Post No. 1 of the American Legion Auxiliary, addressed 
that group in a public meeting. The News and Observer termed his 
address "a stirring appeal for the abolition of war." (N&O, 11/9/25) 
He reiterated his support for the World Court and the League of 
Nations by saying, "All honor to those nations which are struggling 
to find the light, and all shame to this country who has absolutely 
failed to give the assistance that counts." Speaking of the idea that 
war is sometimes necessary to defend the weak, he called attention to 
"the millions who die, the millions who were wounded, and the mil- 
lions of refugees and orphans whose present state was brought about 
through war." He declared that "War is not to defend the weak ... it 
only multiplies the weak and unfortunate." (N&O, 11/9/25) 

Reporting on a sermon which Ellis preached on Sunday, February 
6, 1927, Nell Battle Lewis wrote: 

Members of the congregation of the Pullen Memorial church yester- 
day morning heard the gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them by their 
pastor, the Rev. J. A. Ellis. Mr. Ellis repudiated the attitude of the vast 
majority of Christians today, that herd attitude which in time of war 
makes the church scarcely less militaristic than the army. He turned 
from this completely in unequivocal allegiance to the supreme Pacifist, 
and with the sword of the Lord and of Gideon he went to war on war. 

The first denunciation of the monstrous wickedness of war by a 
Christian minister in Raleigh ever heard by the writer during a life 


spent in this city of churches was that by the Rev. Mr. Ellis about eight- 
een months ago. This same man yesterday gave a thrilling revelation of 
zealous faith, and bravely and directly expressed again the message of 
peace and good will his Lord died to bring. 

"War," Mr. Ellis quoted, "is everything that Christ is not!" 

Ellis stood in that theological camp which believed that it was pos- 
sible for Christians to be open to new scientific developments without 
endangering their faith and without challenging the validity of the 
Scripture. In the midst of the national furor over the teaching of evo- 
lution in the public schools, Ellis proclaimed: 

Can a Christian continue 10 study and seek knowledge? The present 
civilization that all are now enjoying is due to men who have been 
seekers after knowledge. The men who use the microscope and telescope 
need not forsake God but should combine their strength with His. Man 
alone is a very weak creature but if he and God are working together 
then there is a combination that can not be beat. (N&O, 5/31/26) 

That statement was consistent with what Ellis had been doing in his 
own efforts to give leadership to the church. On March 16, 1924, a 
year before the Scopes trial, he had had W. L. Poteat, the biologist 
who was President of Wake Forest College, preach at Pullen. In the 
aftermath of the Scopes trial in 1927 he had Poteat deliver his series of 
lectures on "A Scientist's View of Religion." 

Ellis was much in demand for services in places other than Pullen 
Memorial Church. He preached in a number of revival meetings: at 
Broadway, Holly Springs, and Baptist Chapel in Moore County; at 
Coats; at Mebane; at Meherrin near Murfreesboro. In addition, he 
spoke at civic and at community meetings: a commencement sermon 
at Sanford High School; a thanksgiving service sponsored by the Bap- 
tist churches in Raleigh; the dedication of a new building for the 
YWCA; a graduation address to Rex Hospital's School of Nursing; 
the Amerian Legion Auxilliary. 

When Ellis was absent from the pulpit of Pullen Memorial Church 
he often had well-known religious leaders supply for him. Twice he 
had Dr. J. A. Campbell, founder and president of Campbell Junior 
College, speak at Pullen. Twice Dr. R. T. Vann, president of Mere- 
dith College, preached for him. Once he had W. D. Weatherford, presi- 
dent of the Southern Y.M.C.A. College in Nashville, address the con- 
gregation. Once H. H. McMillan, missionary to China, occupied the 
pulpit. A frequent guest minister was Dr. Charles Maddry, General 
Secretary of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and a 
member of Pullen. 

On Sunday, December 9, 1928, Dr. Ellis announced his resignation 
from Pullen Memorial Church and his acceptance of the pastorate of 
the First Baptist Church of Sherman, Texas. His statement to the 
congregation was quoted in full in the News and Observer for Mon- 
day, December 10, 1928: 


On August 22, 1919, Pullen Memorial Church did me the honor of 
calling me to this pastorate. On the first Sunday in September, follow- 
ing, it was my privilege to begin what has been to me a most happy 
relationship. At an appropriate time I hope to have opportunity to 
express, in some small measure at least, the gratitude I have to the 
members of this church and congregation for these years of unfailing 
loyalty and faithfulness to a work and a cause that have lived so close to 
our hearts. Today I come to return to this church the trust committed to 
me more than nine years ago. I came not only in response to your call, 
but at what I then believed, and believe as firmly today, to be the call of 
our Lord. I shall leave in response to what I believe to be the same high 
call. I now place before this church my resignation as pastor with a 
view to accepting a call recently extended by the First Baptist church at 
Sherman, Texas. In order that the work there may be begun at an early 
date let me request that I be released from this church not later than the 
second Sunday in January of next year. 

In commenting on Ellis' resignation, the News and Observer stated: 

Dr. Ellis has made an enviable record in Raleigh in building up his 
church and in work among the young people, especially the students of 
State College. His campaign against the militaristic attitude, including 
controversies with E. E. Spafford, while he was National Commander 
of the American Legion, and with General A. J. Boley while he was 
commandant of Fort Bragg, and his arguments against compulsary mil- 
itary training at State College gained for Dr. Ellis considerable atten- 
tion during the past several years. 

The same article also noted that Dr. Ellis would be moving from the 
leadership of a congregation numbering between four and five 
hundred to the leadership of one numbering nearly seventeen 
hundred. In reporting on Ellis' last sermon at Pullen, preached on 
January 13, 1929, the News and Observer called him "the dean of 
Baptist ministers in the city." 

Throughout most of Ellis' pastorate Dr. Charles E. Maddry was a 
member of Pullen Memorial Church and was actively involved in a 
leadership position. Dr. Maddry was elected Corresponding Secretary 
of the North Carolina Baptist State Convention in 1921. At the time 
he was no stranger to Pullen. A native North Carolinian, he had been 
pastor of the University Place Baptist Church in Austin, Texas, for 
several years. He had maintained his North Carolina contacts, how- 
ever, and in May, 1919, had preached in revival meetings both at 
Tabernacle Church and at Pullen Memorial. Without a pastor at the 
time, Pullen had tried unsuccessfully to get him to accept the pastor- 
ate of that church. In announcing his appointment as Corresponding 
Secretary, the Biblical Recorder stated, "Dr. Maddry is a native of 
North Carolina, a graduate of the State University, and of the Louis- 
ville Seminary. He is a good preacher and a man with a great heart 
who will fill the office admirably." (BR, 1/5/21) In another item in 


that same issue the Recorder noted that "In joining the Pullen Me- 
morial Church, rather than one of the strong churches in Raleigh, 
Secretary Maddry exhibited the true missionary spirit." Maddry 
remained a member of Pullen until 1932, when he moved to Nash- 
ville, Tennessee, as Executive Secretary of the Promotion Committee 
of the Southern Baptist Convention. After only a few months in that 
position, he became Executive Secretary of the Southern Baptist For- 
eign Mission Board in Richmond, Virginia. 

Maddry's denominational work naturally required him to travel 
throughout the state. At the same time, however, he managed to be 
quite active in the life and work of Pullen Memorial. He was a 
member of the Board of Deacons. Both in Board meetings and in con- 
gregational meetings his judgment was often sought and always 
respected. He frequently filled the pulpit for Ellis when the latter 
found it necessary to be away. 

Another member of the church throughout Ellis' pastorate, and for 
many years afterwards, was R. L. McMillan. Beginning his service as 
Superintendent of the Sunday school in 1920, he continued in that 
office through 1927. The Biblical Recorder, in a statement about pro- 
gress at Pullen in Ellis' first few months, stated, "R. L. McMillan, a 
young lawyer, who recently located in Raleigh, one of Scotland 
County's 'sunburnt boys,' is superintendent of the Sunday school." 
(BR, 3/31/20) Commenting on his work in that office, Baker said: 

For 9 years Bro. R. L. McMillan had served very efficiently as Supt. of 
Sunday School. Our Sunday School has grown from a membership of 
168 to 659 during his administration. There had been many conversions 
all along from the Sunday School into the Church. Bro. McMillan is a 
consecrated, zealous Christian worker. He has the ancestral background 
of great Baptist leaders. His Brother Hud McMillan has been a mission- 
ary in China for many years. Another Brother, Jim Arch McMillan is a 
minister and for many years Editor of the "Charity and Children" at 
our Thomasville Orphanage. The McMillan Family have truly been 
outstanding in Church and Religious Work. (p. 36) 

Edwin McNeill Poteat, Jr., became pastor of Pullen Memorial Bap- 
tist Church on September 15, 1929. Poteat was born November 20, 
1892, in New Haven, Connecticut, the son of Edwin McNeill and 
Harriet Gordon Poteat. He was a graduate of Furman University, 
where he received the A.B. in 1912 and the A.M. in 1913. He then 
studied at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he 
received the Th.M. in 1916. For a year after his graduation from the 
seminary he was a traveling secretary for the Student Volunteer 
Movement. Then he went to China, under the auspices of the Foreign 
Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, serving there 
from 1917 until he came to Pullen in 1929. During the last three years 
of his work in China he was associate professor of philosophy and 
ethics at the University of Shanghai. 


Poteat was a member of a family well-known in the Baptist denom- 
ination and in educational circles, particularly in the Carolinas. His 
father had been pastor in Chapel Hill, had taught ancient languages 
at Wake Forest College, had served as pastor in several New England 
churches, and had been president of Furman University. After resign- 
ing from Furman in 1918, he had worked successively with the Lay- 
men's Missionary Movement, the Northern Baptist Convention, and 
the University of Shanghai. Returning to the United States, he had 
been pastor first of First Baptist Church in Richmond, and then of 
Second Baptist in Atlanta. He had returned to teaching, working at 
Mercer University for three years and then at Furman University. He 
was at Furman at the time of his death in 1937. 

Poteat's uncle, William Louis Poteat, was a biologist on the faculty 
of Wake Forest College from 1878 until 1905, and was president of 
Wake Forest from 1905 until 1927. His aunt, Miss Ida Poteat, was 
head of the art department at Meredith College from its beginning in 
1899 until her death in 1940. His brother, Gordon Poteat, was a long- 
time missionary in China. 

At the time of his call to Pullen, McNeill Poteat was in China, 
teaching at the University of Shanghai. He was thoroughly commit- 
ted to the cause of missions, and he maintained that commitment 
throughout his life. He was not entirely at home with the philosophy 
of the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board, however. More sensi- 
tive than most of his peers, both among Baptists and among mission- 
aries of other denominations, to economic and political conditions, 
he understood the instability of China. He was aware that Christian 
missionaries might not be permanently welcome there and, therefore, 
urged the Foreign Mission Board to transfer leadership to nationals 
as quickly as possible. The Foreign Mission Board, however, was 
unwilling to take the steps which he thought necessary. That differ- 
ence was certainly one factor in his willingness to leave China. 

We are not sure exactly how Poteat's name came before Pullen as a 
prospective pastor. The nomination may have come from his father, 
who had returned from China in 1927 and had preached at Pullen on 
May 29 of that year. At the time of Ellis' resignation, the elder Poteat 
was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Richmond. Furthermore, 
McNeill Poteat had family and friends in the area. Pullen's pulpit 
committee must have been in contact with him when the following 
news item, quoted from the Baptist Courier, appeared in the Biblical 

Rev. McNeill Poteat is now a professor in Shanghai College, China. He 
knows as much about the Chinese situation as any man that we have in 
that great country. You will be interested in this paragraph which we 


clipped from a recent private letter to a member of his family. "What- 
ever may be said of the period of comparative peace that envelops this 
land just now, it cannot be gain-said that it is the longest period that 
we have had in nearly a dozen years. I am coming to think that with the 
exception of inevitable flares up in local quarters there will not come a 
period of nationwide revolution again for many years — perhaps never. 
This means that there is at least an opportunity for constructive devel- 
opments. . . . Our work here in the college has been quite successful. 
The Chinese president is very much on his job. He is coming to the 
Southern Baptist Convention this year. Last month I baptized nine stu- 
dents. This is the first time that there have been open confessions of 
Christ here in the past two years. The times of disturbance have, some- 
how, taken the minds of the students away from such matters, and I 
think it can be safely said that it indicates a change in atmosphere when 
so large a group comes out into the open. (BR, 4/3/29) 

The Biblical Recorder for May 8, 1929, announced that Pullen had 
extended a call to "Dr. E. M. Poteat, Jr., of Shanghai, China," and by 
cabelgram he had notified the chairman of the committee that he had 
decided to accept the call. In the June 26 issue the Recorder again 
spoke of his coming, saying "Dr. E. McNeill Poteat, who has spent 
several years in China as missionary, was called to the pastorate of the 
Pullen Memorial Church, Raleigh, some time ago, and has written 
that he accepts the call." 

The Recorder's references to the communication prompted Poteat 
to write to the editor: 

May I ask your cooperation in a small matter? I am not "Doctor" 
Poteat. No doubt the numerous doctors Poteat in your mind make it 
difficult to think of one Poteat as plain and undeserving of such rank. 
Such however is the case, and I would prefer to be known as the quite 
unadorned person I actually am. (BR, 7/31/29) 

Not everyone agreed that Poteat was quite so "plain and undeserv- 
ing" as he indicated, for ultimately he was to receive honorary doctor- 
ates from Wake Forest, Duke, and Hillsdale. 

Poteat served as pastor from September 15, 1929, until September 
15, 1937. Continuing its practice of reporting every Monday on sev- 
eral church services held in the city on the preceding day, the News 
and Observer often summarized Poteat's sermons. His first several 
sermons were basically expository. On August 24, as a visiting minis- 
ter, he preached a sermon in which he said that "The final proof of 
religion is in the heart of man." On September 22, his second Sunday 
as pastor, he began a series of sermons on "The Temptations of 
Christ." In November he delivered a series on "Seeing Jesus through 
the Eyes of His Contemporaries." Beginning in January, 1930, most 
of his sermons were efforts to bring the gospel to bear upon the issues 
of life, both personal and social, but with a concentration on the 
social. A list of the ideas with which he dealt, as reported in the News 
and Observer, is instructive: 


January 5, 1930: a New Year's sermon based on Abraham's venturing 

out on faith, citing areas in our life which call for faith. 
January 12, 1930: the nation is suffering from "a multiplication of 

moral and legal codes," and is therefore more Pharisaic than 

February 2, 1930: Jesus' followers have restricted him. 
February 9, 1930: The Great Progress in our Society is due to the Social 

and Moral Influence of Jesus. 
February 23, 1930: "And God saw that it was Good." 
March 2, 1930: Cowardice and Ignorance are Responsible for our not 

Following Christ. 
March 16, 1930: Jesus Saves from Ignorance. 
March 27, 1930: The Christian Attitude Toward Truth is to be Open to 

June 1, 1930: "Glorious Freedom" — Must not be Confused with 

June 29, 1930: Parable of the Good Samaritan. 
July 6, 1930: We would Change this City if We were to take Christ 

July 13, 1930: Attitudes toward Trouble. 
July 20, 1930: "Thinking is Dangerous." 
July 27, 1930: "A Cure for Pessimism." 
November 23, 1930: "Love and Personal Quarrels." 
December 7, 1930: Condemnation of Industrial Oppression. 
December 14, 1930: Against Military Training for Students. 
December 21, 1930: The Meaning of Christmas has been Lost. 
January 11, 1931: Does Religion bar Progress? 
January 18, 1931: Anti-alcohol. 

February 8, 1931: Property Rights are often Oppressive of Humanity. 
February 15, 1931: Nationalism is Unchristian. 
February 22, 1931: Our Shame is that We are no longer Morally 

Indignant at Corruption. 
March 8, 1931: Parable of the Good Samaritan, with the theme, "Get 

the Robbers!" 
March 22, 1931: Christianity is the Solution to our National Economic 

May 17, 1931: Peace. (At the conclusion of this service, the congregation 

adopted a resolution asking President Hoover to work for peace and 

September 6, 1931: Labor has the Right to Work. 

November 8, 1931: Three levels of Religion: Physical, Social, Spiritual. 
November 29, 1931: America has a Heathen Aim: The Quest of Material 

December 6, 1931: "The Threat of Insecurity" (he spoke of social, not 

personal, insecurity). 
December 13, 1931: "Slaves to Alcohol?" 
December 20, 1931: Peace. 

December 27, 1931: Barriers to Human Relationships. 
April 4, 1932: Skepticism is Needed. 
July 24, 1932: Capitalists Need to be Converted. 
September 11, 1932: A Denunciation of Patronage and Privilege in 



As expressed in his sermons, then, Poteat's major concern was with 
what is termed "Social Christianity." Even when he spoke on subjects 
that seem to be basically personal, he usually saw also a social appli- 
cation. In the sermon on January 5, 1930, speaking about venturing 
out on faith, he cited areas needing attention. First he called attention 
to the international friction centering in China, India, and the Near 
East, and to the questions of "debt settlement." Then, at the national 
level, he spoke of financial depression and law enforcement. Next he 
spoke of the local economic problems of farm and industry. He con- 
cluded with a statement about individual concerns: "the pressure of 
hard times, the indifference to the claims of higher values in life; and 
the widespread contempt for traditional moral restraints." In another 
sermon preached on March 2, 1930, on Peter's denial of Christ, he 

We don't know where He is going, and we are afraid to follow as far as 
we can see Him. . . . We have been content to follow him to church, to 
young people's societies and presumably to heaven, but we don't follow 
Him to business, to the voting precinct, to the Houses of Congress or to 
international conferences, because we think that He has never preceded 
us there! (N&O, 3/3/30) 

Poteat always dealt with contemporary issues. He was thoroughly 
biblical, basing his messages upon scripture appropriate to the sub- 
jects with which he dealt. Frequently he found in the biblical passage 
implications which more traditional preachers did not discover. His 
knowledge of contemporary issues was extensive, for he read widely, 
with materials ranging from the morning newspaper to ancient phi- 
losophy. He believed that it was possible to build a better society and 
that the teachings and example of Christ were the guides to accomp- 
lish that goal. 

Poteat was much in demand as a visiting preacher, particularly in 
colleges and universities. On Friday, January 31, 1930, he delivered 
the annual Founders' Day address at Meredith College. So impressed 
was the editor of the Biblical Recorder with that address on "Creativ- 
ity" that he printed it in full in the February 19 issue. In March, 
Poteat was in a week-long series in Danville, Virginia. In April he 
was the featured Religious Emphasis Week speaker at the University 
of Richmond, where his theme was "The Adequacy of Jesus for the 
Life and Thought of Today." In June he conducted services for a 
week at Blue Ridge. In July, apparently sensitive to the fact that he 
was spending a great deal of time away from the church, he asked the 
deacons for an official statement. The minutes noted: "The pastor 
asked permission of the Board of Deacons to have leave of absence not 
to exceed once each month to make contact speeches with colleges, by 
which he has been invited to speak. His request was granted on the 


condition that he did not leave Pullen Church at the first opportunity 
which might present itself." (Minutes, 7/7/30) In October of that year 
Poteat delivered a series of nine addresses at Georgia Tech, where his 
stated aim was "to impress upon the students the claims of Jesus as an 
adequate moral guide in the twentieth century." (BR, 11/5/30) In 
October also he was at Wake Forest College to deliver a series of lec- 
tures on the subject of human behavior, dealing with the question, 
"Why Should a Man Behave Himself?" (BR, 10/28/31) In the spring 
of 1932 he preached the baccalaureate sermon at Coker College. A few 
weeks later he addressed the Federation of Women's Clubs in York, 
Pennsylvania, on the subject, "The International Mind." He had 
received the invitation to deliver that address on the basis of some 
women having heard his radio sermon on the subject of "Nationalism 
and Church Obligation." In June, 1932, he was on the faculty of 
"The Preachers' School," held at Meredith College. (BR, 4/27/32) 

In November, 1930, the annual session of the North Carolina Bap- 
tist State Convention was held in Raleigh at the First Baptist Church. 
In that meeting a great deal of attention was paid the fact that the 
Convention was celebrating its one hundredth anniversary. Poteat 
wrote the words and music for the "Centennial Hymn," which begins 
with the line, "Backward our glance surveys the road we've trod." 
The fourth stanza summarizes Poteat's spirit: 

Forward we move in hopefulness to gain 

Crosses and crowns throughout the coming age; 

Thy Kingdom comes through passion and through pain, 

Thou art our hope and Thou our heritage. 

Poteat's first book, Coming to Terms with the Universe, was pub- 
lished in 1931. It was written during the early years of his pastorate at 
Pullen, and incorporated many of the ideas which he had developed 
in his addresses at the colleges and universities where he had spoken. 
It represents his serious and continued effort to retain basic Christian 
convictions in light of the new information which science was daily 
bringing, and to present Christian faith as the necessary ingredient for 
life in the scientific age. It was not so much an attempt to reconcile 
science and religion as it was to understand them as complementary 
to each other and as necessary each to the other. 

From the scattered minutes of church conferences and deacons' 
meetings between 1927 and 1932, some interesting information about 
the institutional life of the church in this period can be gathered. On 
December 4, 1929, the church approved the following recommenda- 
tions from the deacons: 

That all present church officers except the church clerk be re- 
elected — retiring deacons excepted. New deacons to be elected at a later 
meeting for that purpose. In case of the church clerk, they recommend 


that the office be combined with that of secretary to the board of dea- 
cons, for obvious good reasons, thus automatically making the church 
clerk a member of board of deacons. 

That retiring deacons be eligible to re-election and may succeed 
themselves in office. 

That elderly male members of church may be elected deacons for life. 

On December 9, 1931, the deacons voted to recommend to the church 
that the number of deacons be increased from sixteen to twenty. To 
those minutes was appended a notice dated December 16, 1931, that 
the recommendation was approved and additional deacons were 

The minutes of the deacons' meeting for 1930, 1931, and 1932 indi- 
cate offerings had declined every year, falling from $12,540 in 1926 to 
$7,363 in 1929. In 1930 they were up by $300, but in 1931 they were 
down again to $6,090. In 1932 the church was in a dangerous finan- 
cial situation, with all offerings totaling only $1,561. In December the 
deacons authorized the use of money from the building fund to pay 
current expenses. In light of the national economic situation the 
decline is not Surprising. Yet the deacons were worried. Minutes for 
the meetings in February, April, July, and October, 1930, and two 
meetings in October, 1931, reflect their growing concern. There were 
frequent references to such details as Pullen's share in the cost of bus 
transportation for Meredith students to attend the churches in 
Raleigh. (2/3/30; 2/24/30; 4/2/30; etc.) The Sunday evening services 
were being broadcast, and inevitably the question arose as to whether 
the church could afford to continue to pay for that practice. The ques- 
tion was raised at the January 7, 1931, meeting, and "A motion by Mr. 
Maynard to tell Mr. King to continue as long as funds were available 
was passed." The August minutes state that "The pastor reported for 
the broadcast committee that there was money in hand for the broad- 
casts through November, December and perhaps January from 7:30- 
8:30 in the evening on Sundays." 

At one point, Poteat "discussed the order of the service and asked 
for criticisms, favorable or unfavorable. There were some of both." 
(Deacons, 10/13/30) Apparently Poteat thought that more discussion 
was needed, for the matter came up again in the November meeting. 
He may have received some suggestions, but "it was decided to leave 
the order of service to the pastor, the chairman of the Board of Dea- 
cons, and the President of the Woman's Missionary Society." (Dea- 
cons, 11/3/30) 

Another matter was brought up in the October 13, 1930, meeting of 
the deacons which was a foretaste of things to come: "Motion was 
made and carried to recommend to the church in conference that 'for- 
eign baptism' (immersion) be accepted by this church." Unfortu- 
nately, no record exists of the church's action on this issue, but later 


practice makes it clear that the action must have been ratified. 

As might be expected of one who had served in China, Poteat main- 
tained a strong interest in missions. The minutes of the Deacons' 
meeting for January 6, 1930, report that "Mr. Poteat and Mr. Browne 
were asked to cooperate with Mrs. Maddry and Mrs. Allen in regard to 
the week of missions." They did indeed cooperate, and on February 
16-21, 1930, the church observed "missionary week," with the opening 
address being delivered by Dr. W. L. Poteat, of Wake Forest College. 
(BR, 2/12/30) The Biblical Recorder described the sessions: 

The Pullen Memorial Church, Raleigh, under the capable leadership 
of pastor E. McNeill Poteat conducted a School of Missions last week. 
Each evening at 6:30 lunch was served; then there were sectional meet- 
ings, story telling for the little folk, biographical sketches of mission- 
aries for young people, and a discussion of the missionary enterprise by 
the pastor. After these meetings each evening there was an inspirational 
address by some capable person. Those who attended these meetings 
regularly declared this the best meeting for the discussion of missions 
they have attended. Few people have such a grasp of this great subject 
as pastor Poteat. (BR, 2/26/30) 

As Poteat's pastorate progressed, this emphasis upon missions was to 
continue and to grow. 

In November, 1932, America chose a new president, Franklin 
Delano Roosevelt, a man who promised the nation "a new deal." 
Anyone who looked beyond the borders of our nation might have seen 
something of the trouble brewing in Japan, in Italy, and in Germany. 
Few people, however, saw much further than the poverty and the 
unrest in our own country. In the midst of the Depression, they 
looked with a hope born not of optimism but of desperation to the 
new president. In that setting, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church was 
responding to the leadership of a pastor who had a hope based not on 
desperation but on an optimistic faith. 


Chapter 5 

A Church With A Conscience 

In An Era of Crisis 


When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United 
States the nation was at its lowest economic ebb in history. Thirteen 
million people were unemployed, one out of every four persons in the 
labor force. Jobless and homeless, a million or more people wandered 
across the nation searching day by day for food and shelter, not know- 
ing from one day to the next what luck they might have. The hobo 
and the bum and the pencil peddler were familiar sights. Many 
employed people survived on drastically reduced income, often piling 
up debts and constantly afraid that they might lose their jobs. As 
Roosevelt had campaigned he had found the nation desperately 
afraid. While he did not spell out his policies during his campaign 
because he had not worked them out, he did promise to involve the 
federal government in resolving the problems. He won overwhelm- 
ingly, and at his inauguration in March, 1933, he announced, "First 
of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear 
is fear itself." 

Immediately after his inauguration Roosevelt began to take drastic 
steps. Some of his programs were highly successful; some much less 
so; and the constitutionality of some was ultimately tested in the 
courts. He met strong resistance, much of it in the South which he 
had declared "the nation's number one economic problem." He was 
re-elected in 1936, however, and the national recovery continued. 


During Roosevelt's first eight years the world was moving inexora- 
bly toward war. Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, the same 
year in which Roosevelt began his first term. In 1934 Hitler and Mus- 
solini had their first meeting. In 1935 Hitler proclaimed a number of 
anti-Semitic laws, and in the same year Mussolini invaded Ethiopia. 
The Spanish civil war broke out in 1936. In 1937 the Japanese began 
an undeclared war against China. In 1938 Hitler took Austria and 
Czechoslovakia. In 1939 the German invasion of Poland led to the 
Franco-British declaration of war. By the time of the Japanese attack 
on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, Hitler had overrun Norway, 
Denmark, the Low Countries, and France, and was bombing Britain. 
He was defeating the British in North Africa and was marching 
through Russia toward Leningrad. The Italians had failed in their 
attempt to take Greece, but the Japanese, who had joined the Axis, 
had occupied most of Indochina. In spite of the fact that many Ameri- 
cans opposed our involvement in the wars of Europe and Asia, the 
attack on Pearl Harbor was merely the percipitating factor for our 
inevitable involvement. 

Throughout the country the churches, as voluntary institutions, 
suffered severely during the Depression. Many had entered extensive 
building programs in the late 1920's and were heavily in debt. 
Between 1930 and 1934 church offerings were cut in half. Inevitably 
such a curtailment of financial resources meant not only trouble in 
paying off mortgages but also cuts in salaries and the curtailment of 
programs. In addition, it meant reductions in contributions to denomi- 
national programs. The records of churches at both the local and the 
denominational level are the story of struggling to make ends meet. 

Between 1930 and 1940 the growth rate of the churches was only 
half what it had been in the previous decade. Attendance at worship 
services declined and organizational programs for young people, men, 
and women all dropped at an unexpected rate. Only the smaller sects, 
and particularly those of the Pentecostal and Holiness theology, expe- 
rienced any significant growth. 

Despite their limited resources, the churches made a valiant effort to 
do their part in feeding the hungry. Most churches made some provi- 
sion to help at least a portion of those who came to their doors seek- 
ing shelter or pleading hunger. The problems, of course, were far too 
great for them to deal with; only drastic action by the national 
government was to suffice, and that effort took a great deal of time. 
The churches, however, helped many, assuming that the fact that they 
could not do it all did not excuse them from doing what they could. 

Among Southern Baptists during the decade of the thirties there 
were no major developments. The youth organizations and the educa- 
tional programs which had been devised in earlier years did take more 


precise form. Most of the attention of the denomination, however, was 
given to dealing with its financial crisis. So severe was the problem, 
in fact, that there was a temporary reduction in the denomination's 
missionary force in other countries. Southern Baptists did manage, 
however, to expand their work with blacks. That was not a direct 
mission work but cooperation with blacks in providing higher educ- 
tion both at the college and at the seminary level. Of particular 
importance were efforts in support of a theological seminary for 

The problem of the approaching war troubled the Christian con- 
science deeply. Christians had supported American involvement in 
World War I as a "holy crusade," but after that war they were much 
less sure that the nation was blameless. Many ministers became 
avowed pacifists in the thirties. In a 1931 poll of nineteen thousand 
Protestant ministers, twelve thousand stated that they would disap- 
prove of any future war, and over ten thousand said that they would 
refuse to take an active part in one. A similar poll taken in 1934 pro- 
duced essentially the same results. Yet the church could not be indif- 
ferent to what was going on in the world, and many Christians saw 
war as sometimes the lesser of two evils. As Christian theologians 
debated the moral issue, however, the international crisis grew, war 
broke out in Europe, and inexorably the United States was drawn in. 
The churches were confronted not with the possibility of war but 
with its reality. 

E. McNeill Poteat, Jr. 
Minister 1929-1937 


During the early part of this period Edwin McNeill Poteat con- 
tinued to preach sermons that stressed the social responsibility of the 
Christian. On Sunday, June 18, 1933, for example, he preached a ser- 
mon based on the Parable of the Great Feast (Luke 14:16-24). He 
began by saying that "Most of the mischief of the world had not been 
caused by bad people but by sincere people who are misguided." He 
then made the point that "it is not enough to be sincere; we must be 
right." He added: "We have accepted Jesus as our Lord. We have 
accepted Him not as someone to call Lord but to follow in every part 
of life. Yet most of us have agreed to that declaration with a proviso 
that there may be something else more important. That attitude is the 
final infidelity. It is the unpardonable sin if there is one." (N&O, 

In another sermon, based on Jesus' warning against covetousness, 
Poteat attacked the profit motive: 

Our bravado in defying and our cleverness in rationalization have not 
saved us from the fate which has overtaken covetousness. The socio- 
economic order, capitalism, is planted squarely upon the profit motive. 
And, the church has shared in the whole business by extolling the 
virtues of thrift while it fattened on the largess of the successful 

The amazing exposures of the munition makers are evidence of the 
moral insensitiveness that the quest for profit can produce. It is not too 
much to say, in the light of recent exposures, that in obedience to the 
profit-motive, there are men who will not stop short of setting the torch 
to a world conflagration. 

Rarely has the world been faced with the penetration of this ancient 
warning as it has been in the past 20 years. Russia has established a new 
nation as a protest against it. Our own NRA started out with a denun- 
ciation of the money changers in the temple of American business. 

And yet, have we seriously understood the matter? There is little 
point in condemning munitions makers for making profit when our 
social order assumes the need for munitions in order to secure its per- 
manence. Why complain of code breakers when even under the codes 
the consumer can be exploited by business for profit? (N&O, 4/7/34) 

One week later Poteat warned against the possibility of our nation 
being drawn into a "nationalistic bog." (N&O, 4/16/34) In another 
sermon he declared that "the so-called natural law of private owner- 
ship of land is an illusion" that must be corrected by the insight of 
Christ. That illusion, he said, "undergirds our present life, individual 
and social. It insists that human nature — a composite of instinctive 
and rational powers — contains by divine creation the ground for self- 
ishness. It is not called that. It is called 'the acquisitive instinct.'" 
(N&O, 4/12/37) 

Poteat expressed his social concerns not only in his sermons but 
also in activities outside Pullen Church. He had broad contacts in the 
black community, both in Raleigh and throughout the South, at a 


time when such contacts were rare. On April 25, 1934, the Biblical 
Recorder announced: 

In the annual meeting on April 18 in Atlanta Dr. E. M. (sic) McNeill 
Poteat, Jr., pastor of the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Raleigh, was 
elected president of the Interracial Commission. This is a wise selection 
as Dr. Poteat is especially equipped for this work. 

There is little evidence of how "the person in the pew" at Pullen 
responded to this kind of involvement. Had there been vigorous 
opposition, however, it surely would have been reflected in church 
documents. One action of the deacons suggests a degree of support by 
the church. On June 14, 1937, they passed a motion that "Mr. Poteat 
be authorized to invite a colored speaker to occupy the pulpit on June 
27 in connection with the Negro Educational Conference to be held in 
Raleigh." While that action may not have been unique, it was cer- 
tainly a radical one for the time. 

A little more than a month later, in an address at Ridgecrest, Poteat 
accused Southern Protestants of standing by complacently "as consti- 
tutional rights are denied millions of fellow citizens" and called upon 
them to "accord the Negro his civil title and discontinue racial segre- 
gation in public worship." In a lengthy editorial, the editor of the 
Biblical Recorder took vigorous exception. He began: 

Dr. Poteat is to be commended for his humanitarian zeal, but with 
the facts before us we cannot subscribe to his conclusions. To do so 
would be to indict our Southern people of neglect of their colored peo- 
ple among us, of a criminal disregard of their rights as citizens, and of 
an un-Christian attitude towards the Negroes which has stood in the 
way of their religious and moral development. So far as our observation 
and knowledge extend this is far from being the case. (BR, 8/18/37) 

The editor went to great lengths to insist that no constitutional rights 
of blacks were being denied and that segregation in the churches 
"came with the consent and good-will of white and colored mem- 
bers." He concluded with a thoroughly familiar line of reasoning: 

Here is one other matter that deserves serious consideration: the sit- 
ting together of whites and colored in the same house of worship Sun- 
day after Sunday would inevitably lead to a mixture of the races; white 
men would soon be mating with Negro women and white women with 
Negro men, if they should meet and mingle at the services of the 
churches. We think that is self-evident. Anything else would be contrary 
to nature. Is miscegenation, or amalgamation, desirable? Those who 
argue against 'racial segregation in public worship' should face this 
issue squarely. If miscegenation is desirable, they are justified; but if 
miscegenation is not desirable, they are wrong. A general mulatto pop- 
ulation in the South is what abandonment of 'racial segregation in 
public worship' would result in. 


Poteat also used the written word as a vehicle to express his views. 
In 1934 he published his second book, Jesus and the Liberal Mind. 
The next year he produced a lighter work, Rev. John Doe. Thunder 
Over Sinai appeared in 1936, and The Social Manifesto of Jesus in 
1937. He was also writing poetry, and over the years many of his 
poems appeared in The Saturday Review of Literature and in The 
Christian Century. 

Poteat also used the media nearer home. On April 3, 1935, the Bib- 
lical Recorder printed his response to "The discussion recently carried 
on in the columns of the Biblical Recorder regarding war and the 
mind of Christ." His contribution was prompted by the announce- 
ment of planned Naval maneuvers to be held in May near the Aleu- 
tian Islands, only two hours flying time from Japan. He stated: 

Whatever we may think of war as a philosophy of action, here is a 
demonstration of war as a state of mind. And this sort of thing needs 
the summary rebuke of all patriotic Christians. We should like to pro- 
pose that the Christian conscience that surely detests all sabre-rattling 
whenever it is indulged, become vocal in protesting to our representa- 
tives in Washington, and to the President himself. We have a right, nay 
an obligation, to dispute the need and the wisdom of such a stupid, 
costly and highly provocative display of our Navy in waters so near to 

In 1935 Poteat was chairman of a special commitee of the Southern 
Baptist Convention that recommended the establishment of a denom- 
inational "Bureau of Social Research." The Bureau was to have a 
paid staff and was to be outside the control of any denominational 
agency. Its responsibilities would be the study of such social changes 
as those cited at the beginning of the committee's report: 

We are living in a time of great social unrest. The amazing confusion of 
the public mind on liquor, the increasing laxity of moral imperatives, 
the recrudescence of mob-violence in lynchings and labor disputes; the 
changes in the ideals of the home and its increasing disappearance as a 
place of discipline and instruction; unemployment and the efforts to 
correct it by the government and business, impress us with the fact of 
the confusion and uncertainty of our social life. (Reported in BR, 

Because of "division of opinion," action on the report was delayed 
for a year. A convention-wide discussion ensued, with opposition to it 
dominating. The Recorder carried articles on both sides, but the edi- 
tor opposed the proposal. The chairman of the denomination's Social 
Service Commission circulated an article in which he supported the 
recommendation. The Raleigh-Central Association of Baptist minis- 
ters endorsed it. 

Aware of the tide of opinion against the proposal, the Committee 
revised it by recommending that the Board be incorporated into the 


Social Service Commission. Even that compromise was inadequate, 
however. When the Convention met in May, 1936, the report was 
tabled. The editor of the Recorder observed that "The Convention did 
itself an injustice even as it did Mr. Poteat, in not allowing a discus- 
sion of the report. The tabling of the report was an error." (BR, 
5/27/36) In that same editorial, however, he insisted that "The Con- 
vention did not vote against social service" but against "a proposition 
to establish an agency to investigate certain social problems." 

The defeat of the proposal was a severe blow to Poteat. The idea 
had been his, and he had done most of the work of the committee in 
drawing up the recommendation and in trying to gain support for it. 
Its passage would have placed the Convention in the company of 
other major denominations, nearly all of which were giving official 
recognition to the social implications of the gospel. By defeating the 
proposal the Convention reaffirmed its allegiance to that individualis- 
tic emphasis which had served it well during the nineteenth century, 
but which could not adequately cope with the problems of the com- 
plex social order of the twentieth century. 

The blow may have been softened by a significant recognition 
which came to Poteat from outside the denomination. Hard on the 
heels of the decisive vote at the Convention, Duke University awarded 
him an honorary doctorate. The editor of the Biblical Recorder 
observed, on June 24, 1936, that "In conferring upon him the D.D. 
degree the University honored itself, as well as Poteat and the denom- 
ination with which he affiliates." 

Poteat continued to be a popular speaker in places beyond Pullen 
Memorial Church. In May, 1933, he preached the baccalaureate ser- 
mon for the Raleigh high schools. In June he spoke at the com- 
mencement exercises at Crozier Seminary. In July he delivered a dedi- 
catory speech for the opening of a new girls' gymnasium in the 
Carolina Pines area. In October he spoke in support of prohibition at 
a public meeting in Chapel Hill. In February, 1934, he was Founders' 
Day speaker at Salem College. In February, 1935, he spoke to the 
Meredith students in their "Week of Deeper Religious Thinking." In 
July, 1935, he delivered the baccalaureate sermon at the University of 
Virginia. A news note in the Biblical Recorder for October 16, 1935, 
listed his October itinerary: 

Dr. E. McNeill Poteat, Jr., of Raleigh, has a very strenuous campaign 
immediately ahead of him. He spoke at the Tidewater Association, Nor- 
folk, Va., on October 7. His subject was "Jesus and the Ethical Abso- 
lute." He is to preach a sermon for the Woman's College of the Univer- 
sity of North Carolina in Greensboro, October 27. On October 28 he is 
to preach at the Union Theological Seminary in New York. He is to 
deliver four addresses at a Mission Conference and the Baptist State 
Convention of Massachusetts, at North Adams, Mass., on October 29-31. 


On October 14, 1935, Poteat was one of three Baptist ministers 
attending the organizational meeting of the North Carolina State 
Council of Churches. A year later, at his suggestion, Pullen Memorial 
Church included in its budget for 1937 an item of $25 for that organi- 
zation and a like amount for the Federal Council of Churches. 

With all of these outside activities, however, Poteat worked closely 
with the deacons of Pullen Memorial Church. He was almost always 
present at their meetings and participated freely in their discussions. 
One topic with which the deacons dealt at almost every session, and 
to which Poteat frequently spoke, was that of finances. The church 
was still having a hard time financially, and the deacons struggled 
with setting the budget, raising the money, and approving expendi- 
tures. They debated repairs to the property, the cost of insurance, the 
fair share of the church in providing transportation for college stu- 
dents to the church, and the expenditure for music. They were dis- 
turbed that the church was not doing enough for missions, but were 
unable to find a way to do more. They debated the issue of canvassing 
the membership for pledges to the budget, and they discussed ways of 
reminding the people of their obligations to the church. At no time 
did the church seem in danger of not paying its bills, nor even of 
failing to make its promised contribution to denominational causes. 
Contributions totaled over $6,000 each year in 1933, 1934, and 1935. In 
1936 they were $7,700, and in 1937 they were $8,400. Yet at all times 
there was an intense awareness of the necessity of spending the 
limited funds in the wisest way possible. 

While the minutes of the deacons' meetings do not reflect any con- 
troversy on the subject, they do show that from time to time concern 
was expressed about the procedure for admitting new members to the 
church. At the meeting for February 8, 1933, for example, 

Mr. Bryan suggested that the doors of the church be opened regularly 
on Sunday mornings. Mr. Poteat stated that he would prefer opening 
the doors of the church once a month and that the service be made more 
impressive, but that until a plan could be worked out, the doors would 
be opened each Sunday. 

Other deacons thought that the church was not sufficiently evange- 
listic. In the meeting on October 10, 1934, someone evidently raised 
the question of a revival, for one note in the minutes reads: "McMil- 
lan: 'Revival,' remarked that church is being revived." In the spring 
of 1936 the question of a revival came before the board again. On 
March 4 the deacons approved Poteat's plan to have a series of visit- 
ing speakers on the five nights before Easter. In addition, the minutes 
report, "The Board also expressed a wish that some form of evangelis- 
tic services be held soon after the close of schools." On May 6, 1936, 
"Motion made and carried that Mr. Poteat, Mr. Browne, Mr. Abell 


constitute a committee to make plans for an evangelistic meeting, 
which was suggested by the Board at the March meeting." On Sep- 
tember 20 the deacons approved the committee's recommended date of 
"November 29-December 6 immediately following the National Preach- 
ing Mission." In addition, a new committee was appointed "to 
arrange for our participation in the special preaching mission and 
also in our follow-up program." On October 7 "Mr. Poteat reported 
for the committee on the evangelistic meeting that he had made con- 
tact with six men, all of whom had declined, and that others were 
being considered." On November 4 the committee reported on plans, 
without mentioning the name of the preacher, and "the Board autho- 
rized two meetings per day during the week of services." Although the 
next session of the deacons was held on December 9, three days after 
the closing date of the revival, the minutes do not refer to it. 

In 1933 the church adopted a membership policy of major signifi- 
cance. At the meeting of the deacons on April 12, 1933, Dr. Caviness 
raised the issue of "our policy on baptism" and made a motion that 
"associate membership be permitted." No action was taken on that 
motion. In the church conference on April 26, however, on a motion 
by R. L. McMillan, the congregation voted that "Those who have not 
been baptized by immersion may be rece ved as associate members, 
having all the privileges of active member nip except to vote and hold 
office." An amendment which would have accepted such persons as 
full members was voted down. 

The deacons frequently gave attention to matters having to do with 
the worship services. One of those matters was music. The minutes 
for November 5, 1931, report the resignation of the choir director and 
the appointment of a committee "to ask Mrs. Wallace to take charge 
of the music and direct the choir." Thereafter there were frequent ref- 
erences to the work of the music committee. A significant action was 
recorded in the minutes of the deacons' meeting on February 10, 1937: 

1. Report of Music Committee — Committee expressed the idea that 
more elaborate music would be better, and that it had been reported to 
them that it was difficult to get outside help for special music. The 
committee reported its action in the matter, and asked that the Board 
ratify the action of the music committee. It developed in the discussion 
that the cost would be more than the am't in the budget, but several 
members expressed the opinion that the extra amount could be raised 
by outside contribution. The action was approved by the Board. 

The question of evening services was frequently discussed in the 
deacons' meetings. Early in Poteat's ministry the evening services had 
been well attended and had been broadcast by the local radio station. 
When the broadcasts ceased is not known, and when attendance 
began to decline is not known. By mid- 1933, however, Poteat was 
trying to find some way of dealing with a changing situation. At the 


regular meeting of the deacons on June 8, 1933, "The pastor brought 
up the question of the Sunday evening service with the suggestion 
that the young people's work be more closely aligned with the Sun- 
day evening service." On February 7, 1934, "The matter of Sunday 
evening services when the pastor is away was discussed. It was 
decided that services will be held, and the deacons designated their 
intentions to come when the pastor is absent." Does that latter state- 
ment suggest that the deacons were not always present at the evening 
service? Or does it suggest that they tended to stay away when the 
pastor was not there? At any rate, the problem continued. At the 
meeting on September 7, 1936, Poteat sought and received approval 
for a plan "to enliven the evening service." That plan must not have 
succeeded, for the minutes of the deacons' meeting on April 7, 1937, 
report: "Mr. Poteat raised the question, What shall we do about the 
evening services? After much discussion, it was suggested that the ser- 
vices be continued through the school term and plans would be made 
regarding the continuance of the evening services in the fall." 

During these years the church continued to hold weekly prayer serv- 
ices. One note in the minutes of the deacons' meetings suggests that 
there was strong sentiment to continue them, even though attendance 
apparently was quite limited: "Mr. Poteat stated that he had taken 
leave to call off the evening prayer service during the remainder of the 
summer." Upon motion, the Board authorized the pastor the [sic] 
announce the time of meeting of the next evening prayer service in 
the fall." 

Poteat often secured the approval of the deacons for the use of the 
worship service for special events. On December 9, 1931, for example, 
they approved his extending an invitation to a Jewish Rabbi "to 
speak some Sunday evening after Jan. 1st." On April 6, 1932, at his 
request, they approved his inviting "the Shaw University Choir to 
occupy evening hour some Sunday." On June 14, 1937, they autho- 
rized him "to invite a coloured speaker to occupy the pulpit on June 

The minutes of the deacons' meetings contain some hints that 
Pullen people were not universally enthusiastic about Poteat's minis- 
try. On January 6, 1932, for example, without any hint of an earlier 
discussion of the matter, a motion was passed "that we have commun- 
ion service once each quarter instead of once each month." On Febru- 
ary 8, 1933, a motion to encourage the deacons to give better support 
to the Sunday school was amended "to ask the members of the Board 
not to walk out on the pastor at the preaching service." One of the 
most provocative notes in the records is an action of the deacons on 
October 4, 1933. According to the minutes, "Mr. Poteat was asked to 
write the Britts a friendly letter in behalf of the Board of Deacons, 


expressing the friendly feeling of the Board for the family and best 
wishes for them in their new church home." On the next day Poteat 

Dear Friends, 

I was requested last night at the meeting of the Board of Deacons to 
write you a letter, expressing the regret of the Board that conditions 
were such as to make you feel it wise to move your membership else- 
where in the city. This was, however, no word of criticism. It was on 
the contrary, with a feeling that you had made the wise decision, in the 
light of the circumstances. Furthermore, the members of the Board 
wished it made a matter of record that they had appreciated both the 
services of Brother Britt as a Deacon, and the activities of Mrs. Britt and 
the girls in the life of the church while with us. 

The hope, that you will find in your new church allegiance happi- 
ness and usefulness, was also expressed, and you were most warmly 
commended to the fellowship of the Tabernacle Church. It was a plea- 
sure to have you a part of our organization, and you will be distinctly 
missed, both as a family, and as officers and helpers in our work. 

With the cordial regards of the whole church family and the Board of 
Deacons in particular, I am, 
Very sincerely yours, 

Although the letter was written on behalf of the deacons, it does seem 
surprising that Poteat gave only the slightest hint that he personally 
shared the regret of the deacons in the Britt's departure. 

As already noted, Poteat was constantly speaking to both religious 
and community groups all over the South and often outside the 
South. The minutes of the January, 1934, meeting of the deacons 
report that "The pastor asked to be permitted to accept several invita- 
tions to hold special services out of town during the Spring. This 
request was granted." Two years later, however, a definite limit was 
set upon the number of invitations Poteat was to be free to accept. 
The deacons passed a motion that the Pastor be allowed a total of 
eight Sundays away from his pulpit, including the vacation period. 

On the whole, the church members were aware that Poteat was a 
man of great ability and were supportive of his ministry not only 
within the local congregation but also to the wider community. It 
basked in the reflected glory of an outstanding preacher who had a 
national reputation for his scholarly insight and for his forthright 
public proclamation of the gospel. They came close to losing him in 
the spring of 1933, when he seriously considered a call from the 
Chapel Hill Baptist Church. It was known to the congregation that 
he had received that call, and in their May 3 meeting the deacons 
unanimously adopted the motion "that the Board expressly say to the 
pastor that it hopes he can see his way clear to remain at Pullen 
Memorial Church. Dr. Caviness suggested that the Board pledge its 


more loyal support of the pastor." On the following Sunday Poteat 
announced his decision to decline the call to Chapel Hill. In com- 
menting on his decision the editor of the Biblical Recorder said: 

In the judgment of many people who are informed of the situation 
there is no man who could better serve the Chapel Hill Church than 
Mr. Poteat. But it is also true that he is just as much needed at Pullen 
Memorial where he has the opportunity to serve the students of State 
College, Meredith College, and other colleges of Raleigh. The people of 
Pullen Memorial Church and Raleigh are greatly pleased at his deci- 
sion to remain in Raleigh. 

Throughout Poteat's first term as pastor of Pullen Memorial 
Church the deacons were constantly giving attention to the Sunday 
school. Their attention, however, was focused not so much on the 
quality of work that was done but on the practical matters of provid- 
ing adequate space. That was particularly true in the years 1929 
through 1934. After 1934 there were fewer references to the matter, not 
because adequate space had been provided but because people simply 
accepted the limitations. 

Figures reported to the Raleigh Baptist Association show that dur- 
ing these years enrollment in the Sunday school fluctuated a great 
deal. Enrollment had reached an all-time high of 659 in 1928. 
Between 1929 and 1937 it ranged between 635 and 502. The reason for 
the fluctuation cannot be determined, but it is reflected in frequent 
changes of leadership. During that nine-year period six different 
superintendents held office. There was a particularly sharp drop in 
1937, the year that Poteat left Pullen, from 564 in 1936 to 502 in 1937. 
It might be noted that in that period the membership of the church 
also dropped, from 395 to 338. 

The minutes of the deacons' meetings of the thirties are notably 
lacking in references to the work of the Women's Missionary Society. 
Pullen Memorial's Missionary Society had been organized in 1904, 
and thereafter had functioned effectively in missionary education and 
in fund-raising. Among its early leaders had been Mrs. Fred Senter, 
Mrs. R. D. Stephenson, Mrs. W. P. Baker, Mrs. R. L. McMillan, Mrs. 
G. H. Ferguson, and Mrs. Z. M. Caviness. During the depression years 
the church maintained its interest in missions, as budget discussions 
in the board of deacons show, and the activities of the W.M.U. played 
no small part in keeping that interest alive. In 1937, the year in which 
Poteat left Pullen, the church's total contribution to all mission 
causes was $1,642. Of that amount, the W.M.U., of which Mrs. Cavi- 
ness was president, raised $551. 

On Sunday, July 18, 1937, Poteat announced his resignation, to 
become effective on September 15. For some months, according to the 
Biblical Recorder, he had been considering a call from the Euclid 


Avenue Baptist Church in Cleveland, Ohio. (BR, 7/28/37) After giv- 
ing a brief summary of Poteat's career, the Recorder observed: "Dr. 
Poteat is one of the most brilliant men of the Baptist State Conven- 
tion of North Carolina, and many friends are expressing regret that 
we are to lose him from the State." This statement preceded by only 
three weeks the editor's long and heated attack on Poteat's Ridgecrest 
statements on race. 

Poteat preached his farewell sermon on Sunday, September 5, 1937. 
His text was John 12:32: "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will 
draw all men unto me." His plea was "that Christians steadfastly 
hold to Jesus as their one guiding 'polar star' against the dangers of 
world political movements which would crush individualism." He 
spoke of Communism, Facism, and Naziism as today's "terrors of the 
world," and of loyalty to Christ as the Christian's only defense against 

In conference on Friday, September 3, 1937, Pullen Memorial 
Church adopted the following resolution: 

Whereas, Dr. E. McNeill Poteat has been pastor of Pullen Memorial 
Baptist Church for the past eight years; and 

Whereas, during Dr. Poteat's pastorate he and the members of his 
family have endeared themselves greatly to the members of our church 
and to the people of Raleigh generally; and 

Whereas, throughout Dr. Poteat's pastorate at this church he has con- 
sistently preached Christian messages of an extraordinarily high and 
challenging order, which have brought national recognition to him and 
to our church; and 

Whereas, Dr. Poteat has accepted a call to the Euclid Avenue Baptist 
Church, of Cleveland, Ohio: 

Now, therefore, be it resolved, 

First, That the members of Pullen Memorial Baptist Chruch hereby 
express their deep regret and feeling of keen personal loss at the resigna- 
tion of their pastor, realizing how fortunate they have been in having 
the inspiration which comes from his personality, his teaching, and his 

Second, That the members of the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church, of 
Cleveland, Ohio, are congratulated for securing as their pastor one of 
the ablest preachers in the country today, a man of remarkable ability 
and versatility, at home in any group, community, or land: a pastor 
who, by his life and teachings, interprets a living Christ in terms of our 
needs today. 

Third, That a copy of these resolutions be presented to Dr. Poteat and 
a copy forwarded to Euclid Avenue Baptist Church, in Cleveland, Ohio, 
and a copy be forwarded to the denominational and the daily press. 

After Poteat's departure the church was not long without a pastor. 
No official records name the members of the pulpit committee, but 
the committee lost little time. They were in almost immediate contact 
with Lee C. Sheppard, pastor in Blacksburg, Virginia. On October 


12, 1937, the deacons approved a recommendation that Sheppard be 
invited "to meet with the Board of Deacons and leaders of our 
Church for consultation." That meeting was held, and on November 
6, 1937, the "Committee for new pastor presented name of Mr. Lee 
Shepherd [sic] as the new pastor. Recommendation was accepted by 
the Board." On December 6 Mrs. Gordon Middleton "reported for the 
committee who went to Blacksburg to extend the Church's call to Mr. 
Sheppard." On December 8 the Biblical Recorder announced: "Rev. 
Lee C. Sheppard, of Blacksburg, Va., has accepted a call to Pullen 
Memorial Church, Raleigh, and expects to begin his pastorate the 
first of the year." 

Sheppard was a native of Georgia and had a degree from a business 
college there. He served for three years as educational director of the 
First Baptist Church, Columbus, Georgia. Then he earned his B.A. 
from the University of Richmond, and during his student years was 
on the staff of the First Baptist Church. In 1933 he was granted the 
B.D. degree by Yale University Divinity School, and during his years 
at Yale he was associate pastor of the Union Memorial Church, Glen- 
brook, Connecticut. His first pastorate after graduation from Divinity 
School was the Blacksburg, Virginia, Baptist Church, where he served 
from 1933 until he came to Pullen. 

Lee C. Sheppard 
Minister 1937-1947 


In calling Lee Sheppard, Pullen Memorial Baptist Church secured 
a man who would continue the tradition of prophetic preaching 
which had been firmly established by Ellis and Poteat. The Raleigh 
News and Observer was still reporting each Monday on sermons 
preached in local churches on the preceding day. Its favorite preachers 
were Newton Robison, pastor of Hillyer Memorial Christian Church, 
and Carl Voss, pastor of the United Church. Even Poteat did not 
make the paper as frequently as those two. Voss left Raleigh at about 
the same time as Poteat, and was replaced at the United Church, and 
in the favor of the News and Observer, by Allyn Robinson. Sheppard 
never became a favorite, for there were only occasional reports of his 
sermons. Those which were reported, however, were on timely topics 
and stressed the social responsibility of the church. In his Labor Day 
sermon in 1938, for example, he declared that not merely "the lazy 
panhandler," but also "the idle rich" needed to be put to work. Inher- 
ited wealth, he said, is no justification for idleness. Then, according 
to the News and Observer, he declared: 

The laboring man has certain definite rights and we might say that 
only the laboring man has any rights. Yes, slavery is over and man has 
the right to have a word as to what wages he will accept and under 
what conditions he will labor. 

We need to re-think the philosophy of our wage system. Do we pay 
what the market demands? If we say we pay a man what he is worth, 
how do we go about determining how much he is worth? In accordance 
with the value of what he produces? Who is to determine what the 
laboring man is to receive for his work? The employer alone? The 
laboring man alone? The Government? Why not all three? (N&O, 

Another example of this type of preaching was his sermon delivered 
on January 15, 1939, in which he called for the abolition of capital 
punishment in North Carolina. In supporting this position he stated: 

We cannot believe in capital punishment because we do believe in 
life. Dress it up how we may, punishment is closely allied with the idea 
of vengeance and in the practice of vengeance there is always a measure 
of sadistic perversion. 

Capital punishment as a method of dealing with criminals is nothing 
more or less than a hold-over from our barbarous past. . . . 

Fundamentally my objection to capital punishment grows out of my 
interpretation of the character and disposition of God. God has said Let 
there be life and life came surely for some purpose. When an individual 
or society takes a life, there is destroyed that which only God can create. 
(N&O, 1/16/39) 

As pastor, Sheppard took an active interest in all phases of the life 
and work of Pullen Memorial Church. In the annual business meet- 
ing held in January, 1939, he presented a report on church activities 


of the first year of his pastorate. His statements were quite optimistic. 
Sunday school attendance had passed four hundred, marking "the 
largest attendance our Sunday School has had in some time." There 
had been regular monthly teachers' meetings "and a steady program 
of Bible study." He observed that the weaker departments were the 
Young People and the Adults. There were only two adult classes, and 
he expressed the belief that there should be five or six. There were 
Training Unions for Juniors, Intermediates, and Young People. The 
strength of these programs, Sheppard noted, was due primarily to the 
work of the assistant pastor, Laurence Fox. A well-attended Daily 
Vacation Bible School had been held during the summer, and plans 
were under way for one to be held in the summer of 1939 in coopera- 
tion with West Raleigh Presbyterian Church and Fairmont Methodist 
Church. He commended the continuing "full activity" of "the circles 
of the Woman's Misssionary Society," particularly for "keeping alive 
the spirit of missions" in the church. 

In that same report Sheppard noted that during the year the church 
had received twenty new members by baptism and forty-eight by let- 
ter. He suggested that the church could realistically expect a net 
increase of a hundred members a year for several years. He reported 
also that the church's financial situation was good, and that the 
prospects for 1939 were even better. Pullen had raised $7,000 in 1938, 
and "In all probability we shall raise during this year about $10,000, 
for all purposes. Even though the church had no wealthy members, 
he said, its "capacity to give is not being strained." 

Sheppard made a systematic effort to strengthen the organizational 
structure of the church. At the first meeting of the deacons after he 
became pastor he recommended that church conferences be held quar- 
terly, and that recommendation was adopted. He encouraged the 
holding of "Fellowship meetings"; he encouraged the deacons in 
their plans for regular visitation of church members; and he encour- 
aged the deacons to consider the establishment of a Junior Board of 
Deacons. He emphasized denominational relationships, and the min- 
utes of the deacons' meetings suggest that they became more impor- 
tant to the church. 

In 1939 a significant change in the organization of the Board of 
Deacons was made. On March 6, 1939, the board voted to recommend 
to the church the election as "life members to the Board of Deacons" 
persons who had served as many as three terms of four years each, 
who had reached the age of sixty-five, and who were recommended to 
the church by the board. That proposal was approved and Dr. Line- 
berry was the first person to be recommended for life membership. 
The next year Dr. Z. M. Caviness and Mr. T. E. Brown were made life 


At the meeting on February 2, 1941, Sheppard asked the deacons to 
consider the adoption of a church covenant, and a committee was 
appointed to work on the matter. With the pastor as chairman, the 
committee worked for several months. On October 5, 1941, the dea- 
cons approved for recommendation to the church a covenant modeled 
after one in common use among Southern Baptists. In conference on 
October 22, 1941, the church formally adopted it. It read: 

Having been led, as we believe, by the Spirit of God, to receive the Lord 
Jesus Christ as our Savior, and on the profession of our faith, having 
been baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the 
Holy Ghost, we do now, in the presence of God and this Assembly, 
most solemnly and joyfully enter into covenant with one another, as 
one body in Christ. 

We engage, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit, to walk together in 
Christian love; to strive for the advancement of this Church, in knowl- 
edge, holiness and comfort; to promote its prosperity and spirituality; 
to sustain its worship, educational, training and missionary endeavors; 
cheerfully and regularly to bring in our tithes and offerings in support 
of the ministry, the expenses of the Church, the relief of the poor, 'and 
the spread of the Gospel through all nations. 

We also engage to maintain family and secret devotions; to educate our 
children; to pray and work for the salvation of our kindred and 
acquaintances; to walk circumspectly in the world; to be just in our 
dealings, faithful in our engagements, and exemplary in our deport- 
ment; and to be intelligently zealous in our efforts to advance the King- 
dom of God. 

We further engage to watch over one another in brotherly love; to 
remember each other in prayer; to aid each other in sickness and dis- 
tress; to cultivate Christian sympathy in feeling and courtesy in speech; 
to be slow to take offense, but always ready for reconciliation, and 
mindful of the rules of our Savior to secure it without delay. 

We moreover engage that when we remove from this place we will, as 
soon as possible, unite with some other church, where we can carry out 
the spirit of this covenant and the principles of God's Word. 

To the copy of this covenant found in the church files there was 
appended a note: "A copy of this covenant to be provided each new 
member on his admission, and that it be read at stated intervals as a 
part of the regular church service." 

Almost immediately after Sheppard's arrival, Pullen Memorial 
Church turned attention to the question of constructing the long- 
desired sanctuary. Although there had been a building fund for some 
time, it had never grown very large. In February, 1939, less than $500 
was in the account. Sheppard had come to the church anticipating 
launching a building campaign. On March 7, 1938, he read to the 


a letter from Mr. King, a church architect from Richmond, who had 
inspected the building. After commenting on this, he stated that he 
thought he would be prepared at the next meeting to recommend that 
the church pass a resolution looking toward the building of an audito- 
rium as soon as possible. 

The minutes note that "There was general discussion to the effect 
that we proceed with caution." At the next meeting the pastor "stated 
that at the next meeting of the church conference he would be pre- 
pared to make some specific recommendations to the church relative 
to the planning and building of a church auditorium when and if we 
are able to do so." Because we have no records of the church conferen- 
ces we do not know when the proposal was presented to the congrega- 
tion. December 5, 1938, however, the deacons approved sending a let- 
ter to M. A. Huggins, General Secretary of the Baptist State Con- 
vention, requesting help in the construction of the sanctuary. The 
basis on which they asked for that help was the Convention's interest 
in reaching the students at North Carolina State through Pullen 
Memorial Church. On July 3, 1939, Sheppard announced "that he 
attended the meeting of the committee of the State Mission Board, and 
that the committee committed itself to a recommendation to the Con- 
vention of $25,000 to be paid over a period of years, on condition that 
Pullen Memorial raise $50,000." 

A fund-raising campaign was launched in early 1940, and the 
building committee began to discuss the kind of sanctuary to be 
erected. In 1941 a space for designating contributions to the building 
fund was provided on the card used in the annual every-member can- 
vass. The committee was in constant touch with M. A. Huggins 
regarding the anticipated help from the Convention. At the meeting 
of the deacons on April 6, 1941, 

Mr. Baker reported in detail for the Building Committee. Dr. Caveness 
reported on a consultation with Mr. Huggins to the effect that Mr. 
Huggins would recommend to the State Board a series of payments on 
our building program consisting of 2500 in 1941, 5000 in 1942, 5000 in 
1943, 5000 in 1944, and 6500 in 1945, and in addition that the interest 
on the deferred payments would be paid by the board also. 

By May, 1941, plans were almost complete, and the church was 
prepared to proceed with construction early in 1942. The Biblical 
Recorder announced the plans on May 21, 1941: 

Pullen Memorial Church, Raleigh, Rev. Lee C. Sheppard, pastor, 
plans to begin construction within the next few months on its new 
auditorium. The entire building and remodeling project, according to a 
recent report, will cost $60,000, of which amount $25,000 will be paid 
by the State Mission Board. It is anticipated that $14,000 will be raised 
in the near future from members and friends of the church and the rest 
of the amount will be financed over a period of years. In addition to 


$4,000 already in the church treasury, a number of church officers and 
others concerned in the building program have made cash pledges total- 
ing $5,047, thus bringing the total cash fund now available to approx- 
imately $9,000. The auditorium as planned will accommodate around 
700 people and will be built so that additions can be easily made when 
occasion demands. The Sunday school building will be remodeled to 
accommodate comfortably the seven departments, with adequate class- 
rooms for 1,200. W. P. Baker is chairman of the building committee, 
and W. E. Jordan is chairman of the building finance committee. 

Construction was to be long-delayed, however, because of the entrance 
of the United States into World War II. 

Another matter to which the church gave attention shortly after 
Sheppard's arrival was the need for additional staffing for the church. 
A part-time secretary was employed in September, 1938. In the fall of 
1939 Laurence Fox was employed as "part time assistant to the Pas- 
tor," to serve for the rest of the calendar year. In December the dea- 
cons agreed to receommend to the church that Fox be employed for a 
period of six months "subject to approval of the pastor." In January, 
1940, however, that action was reconsidered, and the deacons decided 
to recommend that Mr. Fox be employed for only two months. Fox 
resigned immediately. After that there was no action on an assistant to 
the pastor until October 5, 1941, when the deacons recommended the 
employment of "Mr. Wilbur E. Campbell, State College student, to 
help with our young peoples' program." 

Yet another matter given attention shortly after Sheppard's arrival 
was a retirement plan for the pastor. The Southern Baptist Conven- 
tion was just instituting a retirement system for ministers of the 
denomination. On February 6, 1939, Sheppard discussed the plan 
with the deacons. The minutes note, "Mr. Canaday stated that he had 
studied the plan and was in favor of it. Mr. Wilson made a motion 
that a committee be appointed to make a detailed study of the plan 
and report back to the board. After being seconded, the motion car- 
ried." The plan was discussed in March and in April, and in May the 
board voted to recommend to the church that Pullen participate. In 
January, 1940, the church took the appropriate steps to enter the plan. 

During the first four years of Sheppard's pastorate the church had 
an active music committee. It made frequent reports to the deacons 
and received instructions from them concerning such matters as the 
possible purchase of a Hammond organ, the purchase of new hymn 
books, the appropriate location of the choir, and so on. On Monday, 
March 18, 1940, the News and Observer reported on the Easter Can- 
tata which the choir had presented on the previous day. After naming 


Miss Helen Sharp, a member of the Meredith College music faculty, 
as director, it listed the members of the choir: 

Eva Cotncr, Frances Dixon, Lena Futrelle, Mrs. W. E. Jordan, Mrs. 
J. D. Paulson, Mary E. Parris, Rachel Senter and Mrs. T. W. Steed, 
sopranos; Florence Botick, Mrs. Carlyle Campbell, Mary Ann Canaday, 
Alma Carlton, Sarah Lovette, Mrs. George Norwood and Mrs. J. A. 
Rigney, altos; Jarvis Adams, J. P. Harrington, W. C. Orders, E. N. 
Peeler, and S. F. Teague, tenors; Dr. Carlyle Campbell, E. F. Canaday, 
L.E.M. Freeman, T. E. Gerber and M. A. Wilder, basses. 

The deacons often discussed the Wednesday evening services. Those 
services continued to be poorly attended during Sheppard's pastorate, 
as they had been during the latter part of Poteat's tenure. Yet the 
deacons were reluctant to terminate them. At their first meeting after 
Sheppard became pastor there had been "general discussion pro and 
con on the advisability of Sunday evening and mid-week services." 
(1/3/38) On two separate motions the deacons had voted that both 
services "be resumed immediately." Presumably that was done. In 
September, however, the deacons decided "that the pastor and the 
chairman of the board of deacons should confer on the subject of the 
mid-week meeting." In July and August, 1940, they discussed the 
topic again, and again decided "to have a mid-week prayer service." 
Sheppard asked for suggestions as to "the desired method of conduct- 
ing these meetings." He received some suggestions, but the problems 
of involvement were not resolved. 

The church was much aware of its opportunity to minister to the 
college community. The students at Meredith were required to attend 
church services, and many attended Pullen. The church helped 
finance the bus transportation of Meredith students to the church. 
Many students from N.C. State also attended, some coming for the 
worship service only, but others being involved in the Sunday school 
program as well. In September, 1939, the church sent letters to all 
incoming freshmen at State and Meredith, inviting them to Pullen. 
In July, 1940, the deacons authorized the placing of an advertisement 
in the N.C. State Y.M.C.A. handbook. In February, 1941, they ap- 
proved a small appropriation of $25 to help finance the work of the 
Baptist Student Union at State. 

In his first year at Pullen Sheppard began holding classes with 
"Junior and Intermediate boys and girls" to discuss with them the 
meaning of Christianity and of church membership. From the first, 
those sessions were held just prior to Easter. In 1938 he also began the 
practice of holding special services the week before Easter. It was his 
judgment that the Easter period was a particularly appropriate time 
both to encourage young people to make their initial Christian com- 
mitment and to encourage other people to reaffirm the commitments 
which they had already made. 


In his first year the success of Sheppard's program was demon- 
strated by statistics. Nineteen people were baptized and twenty-seven 
were received into the church by letter. Because of losses by death and 
transfer of membership, the net increase, however, was only five. Sun- 
day school enrollment increased by twenty over the previous year. In 
subsequent years, however, the number of baptisms was not nearly so 
great: seven were baptized in 1939, none in 1940, and ten in 1941. 
Additions by letter increased, with thirty-one coming in 1939, twenty- 
eight in 1940, and thirty-eight in 1941. For some reason Sunday 
school enrollment dropped to just over four hundred. The church did 
not seem destined to grow as Sheppard had suggested that it might. 

On December 7, 1941, the deacons held their regular meeting. 
According to the minutes, they received a report of the election of new 
deacons; they received a report on the every-member canvass; they 
elected their officers for the next year; and they appointed a committee 
to nominate church and Sunday school officers. Then "The closing 
prayer was led by Dr. Middleton." Only a few hours earlier the Japa- 
nese had bombed Pearl Harbor. If the deacons had heard the news of 
that attack they had as yet learned none of the details. They could not 
possibly have envisioned the future of Pullen Memorial Baptist 
Church in a world at war. 


Chapter 6 

An Ecumenical Church 

In An Era of Hostility 


While Cordell Hull sat in his office on Sunday morning, December 
7, 1941, awaiting an answer from the Japanese envoys to his latest 
proposal to maintain peace, the Japanese planes were already near 
their target at Pearl Harbor. A crowd of nearly four thousand people 
sat in Raleigh's Memorial Auditorium and heard a 234-voice chorus 
sing Handel's Messiah while the battle raged. After listening to that 
magnificent message of hope, they went out to find their city in shock 
with the realization that the nation had been plunged into war. 

Life for all Americans was drastically changed immediately. Al- 
ready registered for the draft, men were conscripted by the millions. In 
addition, some two hundred thousand women joined the armed forces 
as nurses or in some auxiliary. The draftees were quickly — and often 
inadequately — trained and rushed off to the battlefield. They did not 
go into battle with the idealism that had characterized World War I, a 
war to make the world "safe for democracy." Rather they fought with 
the grim desire for survival, with the belief that the dirty job should 
be finished as quickly as possible so that life could return to normal. 
Nearly half a million lost their lives, and millions were wounded. 

The people at home were at war too. To produce the goods neces- 
sary to the war effort, women entered the labor force by the millions. 
Not only did they take white-collar jobs, but also they went into the 


aircraft plants and the shipyards and the munitions factories. Fami- 
lies moved from rural areas and from small towns into industrial cen- 
ters. More than twenty-seven million people moved during the war. 
Wherever they lived, they were asked to conserve power, to save tin 
cans, to collect scrap metal, to donate blood, to buy war bonds. They 
were required to live with the rationing of gasoline and sugar and 
coffee and shoes. The production of new cars ceased as the automo- 
bile plants were converted to the production of planes and tanks. 
Public transportation — planes and trains and buses — was crowded. 
Cigarettes were hard to come by, and liquor even more so. Some peo- 
ple were frozen in work considered essential to the war effort. In one 
way or another, almost everyone was involved in the war. 

The war effort made a tremendous impact upon the race situation 
in the United States. In search of employment in the new war indus- 
tries, blacks moved from the South into other sections of the country. 
They did not escape the problems of discrimination, however. They 
were housed in segregated sections of the cities and were served by 
segregated social institutions. Often their work applications were 
rejected even though jobs went unfilled. When they gave blood to the 
Red Cross their blood was kept separate from the blood of whites and 
was not to be used in transfusions for whites. It is not surprising, 
therefore, that black discontent grew during World War II. One sig- 
nificant expression of that discontent was a rising tide of support for 
the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, 
with a five hundred percent increase in membership in the four years 
following Pearl Harbor. Another, radically different, expression of 
that discontent was the outbreak of race riots in Detroit, in Los 
Angeles, in Beaumont, and in Harlem. 

Like the rest of the nation, Raleigh did not take long to gear up for 
the war effort. Beginning on Monday, December 8, there was a rush of 
men to enlist in all branches of the armed services. A Citizens' Defense 
Corps was formed with more than 4,500 citizens of Raleigh ultimately 
involved. Although Raleigh was not an industrial center, a few local 
small industries won government contracts. Hundreds of people had 
"Victory Gardens," and thousands gave blood and saved scrap metal 
and bought war bonds. They followed the war news by reading the 
papers and listening to the radio. They were anxious about the events 
of the war in Europe, in Africa, and in the Pacific. They were relieved 
when victory came in Europe in May, 1945, but they knew that the 
war was not over. They were stunned by the news of the atomic bomb- 
ing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, and there was unre- 
strained rejoicing when the announcement was made that Japan had 
surrendered on August 14. 


Before the United States went to war Lee Sheppard had established 
himself as a preacher who dealt with vital issues and who brought the 
gospel to bear both upon current events and upon the daily life of the 
individual. During the war that kind of preaching was even more 
characteristic. In hardly a sermon, at least among those seventy or so 
reported in the News and Observer, did he fail to refer to current 
events. A number of his sermons focused on the war. On January 24, 
1943, for example, he spoke on "God at Work in a World in Crisis." 
On March 14 his subject was "Establish our Christian Front." The 
next Sunday he spoke on the Christian "World-Wide Strategy." On 
June 13 he preached on "The Church Victorious." Twice he used the 
topic, "Christ or Chaos," using different texts and making different 
points each time. On September 16, 1945, a few weeks after the end of 
the war, he preached on the duty of the church to cultivate peace. 

A recurring theme in Sheppard's sermons was the centrality of 
Christ. On February 14, 1943, his topic was "Whither Shall We Go," 
and his answer was Peter's affirmation to Jesus, "Thou hast the words 
of eternal life." On March 7, he dealt with the question, "Mad-Man or 
God-Man?" On September 12 he spoke of Christ as the only adequate 
answer to the universal human need to have an object of faith. He 
preached later on "The Mind of Christ," on "The Anger of Jesus," on 
"Christ as Guide," on "Life Through His Name." 

Sheppard saw the church as the indispensable instrument of 
Christ's work in the world. On June 13, 1943, he preached on "The 
Church Victorious." On January 2, 1944, his topic was "This Church — 
Now and Future." On January 30 he dealt with the question, "Does 
the Church Make a Difference in the World?" On May 14 his subject 
was "The Church in Thy House." His view of the church was a broad 
one, and he often spoke in terms of Christian unity. In his commun- 
ion sermon on "The Imperishable Church," preached on October 4, 
1942, he said: 

All over the world today, Christian groups are gathering around com- 
munion tables. ... In the main, the same words will be spoken, the 
same prayers intoned, the same songs sung. There will be a re- 
affirmation of faith in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord and a re- 
dedication of disciples of the Nazarene to the unfinished task of spread- 
ing the gospel throughout the world. . . . This is an expression of the 
unity of all Christian believers. 

On January 17, 1943, he made the point that "We are Christians first 
and Baptists second." On November 21, 1943, he preached on "The 
Communion of the Saints." 

In a number of his sermons Sheppard expressed the concept of the 
oneness of the human race. On January 10, 1943, he made that point 
in his sermon on the "Dignity and Worth of Man." On July 11, 1943, 


he preached on "Danger Spots in the American Scene," and called for 
a recognition of our unity with all persons. On March 12, 1944, he 
declared that Christians must ignore all barriers between people. And 
in his sermon on "The Faith by which Democracy Lives," preached 
on October 1, 1944, he declared that "There is but one God and all 
men are brothers." In his conclusion he stated, "There is one God; 
one world; one mankind. We are all bound together in a living 

Several generalizations might be made about Sheppard's preaching 
during this period. First, his sermons were almost always timely. His 
titles reflect his awareness of contemporary events. Furthermore, when 
he dealt with a more general topic he gave an up-to-date treatment to 
the subject. Second, he always used texts from the New Testament. He 
was thoroughly familiar with the Old Testament, and sometimes 
cited or quoted it in his sermons. For him, however, the Old Testa- 
ment seems to have been only background for the New. And third, he 
sometimes took controversial positions. He spoke, for example, about 
a proper Christian attitude toward the enemy, about race divisions, 
about the improper identification of Christianity with democracy, 
about personal morality. 

Sheppard continued his ministry beyond the local church. In 1942 
he was one of two featured speakers at Religious Emphasis Week at 
Vanderbilt University. Also in 1942 he preached the baccalaureate 
sermons at two high schools and was a conference leader at Blue 
Ridge Assembly. He published two articles in the Biblical Recorder, 
one on the subject of faith and the other on religious literature. In 

1943 he was a member of the North Carolina Baptist State Conven- 
tion's Committee on Social Service and Civic Righteousness. And in 

1944 he preached the baccalaureate sermon for the Raleigh high 

Sheppard's ecumenical interests were shared by the church. Each 
spring Pullen Memorial participated with the other churches in West 
Raleigh in an Easter sunrise service, held in the outdoor auditorium 
of the Raleigh Little Theater. With West Raleigh Presbyterian 
Church and Fairmont Methodist Church, Pullen conducted Vacation 
Bible Schools. During the summer months the congregation joined 
with the other West Raleigh churches in evening "union services." 
On May 6, 1945, Sheppard distributed to the deacons copies of the 
proposed constitution of the Raleigh Council of Churches, and the 
deacons voted to recommend to the church "that we become a 
member of this Council." Church minutes for 1945 are missing, but 
apparently the church voted to affiliate with the Council. 

The denominational connection of Pullen Memorial Church was 
by no means neglected. The church was regularly represented at the 


Assocational meetings and at the meetings of the Baptist State Con- 
vention. It contributed to the support of the missionary of the Raleigh 
Central Association. Some efforts were made to have the church 
represented also at the meetings of the Southern Baptist Convention, 
but that was not always possible. 

One denominational concern of particular significance was a pro- 
posal to merge Meredith College with Wake Forest College. Early in 
1944 Meredith had launched a campaign to raise $565,000 to erect new 
buildings and to increase the endowment. The campaign had gone 
well for several months. But in October, 1944, seven prominent minis- 
ters in the area proposed that Wake Forest College and Meredith Col- 
lege be merged into a single university to be located on the Wake 
Forest College campus. That proposal gained considerable support, 
and the possibility that it might be approved effectively halted Mere- 
dith's fund-raising campaign. The matter was of special concern to 
Pullen for two reasons. First, Pullen saw itself as having a special 
ministry to college students, and the proposed merger would remove 
a significant segment of the college population from Raleigh. Second, 
a number of Meredith administration and faculty were members at 
Pullen, including President Carlyle Campbell; Mary Yarbrough, head 
of the Department of Chemistry; L. E. M. Freeman, head of the 
Department of Religion; John Yarbrough, head of the Department of 
Biology; Dorothy Park, teacher of philosophy and psychology; Lil- 
lian Parker Wallace, head of the Department of History; and many 

For the next month the proposal was debated state-wide. In antici- 
pation that a decision would be made at the Convention which was to 
meet in CharloHe on November 14-16, Sheppard discussed with the 
deacons the importance of the church sending its quota of mes- 
sengers. Like mary other people, Pullen's messengers went to the 
Convention expecting a heated discussion. Instead, however, they 
heard a resolution "prepared by the proponents and opponents of the 
proposal" which called for the maintenance and strengthening of the 
two colleges as separate institutions. Two of the framers of the pro- 
posal for merger spoke in favor of the recommendation. When the 
question was called, the recommendation was passed unanimously. 
Sheppard reported at the next meeting of the deacons, on December 3, 
that "The Meredith question is probably settled now for a long time." 

From time to time several other denominational activities were dis- 
cussed by the deacons. Three times they talked about Pullen's finan- 
cial responsibilities to the Cary Street Mission. Twice they discussed 
contributions for the new chapel at Wake Forest. In 1945 there was 
discussion in the Raleigh Association about the establishment of a 
new church in West Raleigh, and that topic naturally came before the 


deacons of Pullen Memorial. When that church was organized, on 
Sunday, August, 1945, at Forest Hills Baptist Church, some of the 
charter members came from Pullen. 

During the war years the deacons gave a great deal of attention to 
business matters. Hardly a meeting went by without their making 
some decision about repair or improvements to the church property. 
They were constantly concerned about the financial situation and 
were seeking ways to encourage the church members to fulfill their 
responsibilities to the church. They debated and finally took action 
on the need for secretarial help for the church. 

In spite of the wartime difficulties, the church determined early in 
1942 to proceed with its plans to remodel the building which it had 
occupied in 1923. For some time many people had been making con- 
tributions to the building fund. Work was begun in the spring, and 
on April 5, the chairman of the Board of Deacons reported that "at 
the present rate of contributions approximately $10,000 will be col- 
lected for the Building Fund by the end of the year." The total cost of 
the project was expected to be about $15,000. The project was com- 
pleted in the fall, and on September 12 an impressive service of dedi- 
cation was held. The sanctuary had been enlarged to increase the seat- 
ing capacity to 700. The floor had been carpeted, and new pews, a 
new communion table, and new offering plates had been provided. 
Four new Sunday school rooms had been added, bringing the total to 

On February 7, 1943, the board was alarmed by a report that the 
church might not receive the help which it had anticipated from the 
Baptist State Convention for constructing the sanctuary. The chair- 
man appointed a committee to contact M. A. Huggins, General Secre- 
tary of the Convention, "to let him know that this church is definitely 
planning to continue with the original building plans and is expect- 
ing the State Mission Board to make its contributions as scheduled." 
On May 2, "Mr. Jordan reported on a visit to Mr. Huggins' office in 
regard to our building fund. The check which will be forthcoming in 
a few days will more than pay our remaining indebtedness. Our own 
collections in the future will be toward our future building program." 
With that problem resolved, the church continued to think in terms of 
building the sanctuary. At the October meeting of the deacons the 
pastor suggested "that the State Board will probably be more sympa- 
thetic to continuing the building fund payments if we ourselves raise 
$2000 to $2500. Several members were in favor of increasing pressure 
to obtain more funds for building." 

A new problem associated with the contribution from the State 
Convention came up in January, 1944. The treasurer reported that 
$2750 was received from the State Mission Board instead of the $5000 


Mr. Huggins had promised. "There was considerable discussion of 
the ways and means of obtaining the full amount, and it was finally 
moved and carried that a committee of Messers Baker, Caviness and 
Rackliffe be appointed to see Mr. Huggins in this connection." For 
months after that the minutes contain no reference to the contribution 
from the Convention, so there is no clue as to what success the com- 
mittee had. The next reference, on January 7, 1945, is the last one 
during the war years. It still does not answer the question. The min- 
utes simply state: "Correspondence with Mr. Huggins relative to the 
contribution of the conference to the building fund was presented. A 
copy is attached." But the copy is missing. 

A major concern of the church was the acquisition of an organ. In 
1942 the congregation toyed with the idea of purchasing a used elec- 
tric organ but decided against it. On August 4, 1943, Sheppard 
brought to the attention of the deacons a different possibility: 

He mentioned the possibility of getting partial installment now and 
adding to the organ as funds and new building plans permit. Dr. 
Campbell suggested Mr. T. H. Shinn [sic] had done a good job of put- 
ting in an organ at Meredith which was made of parts from organs 
being replaced or torn down. 

On his own, Sheppard wrote to T. H. Sheehan and in September he 
read the response in which Sheehan said that he could install a small 
organ for around $3,200. The deacons asked the music committee to 
communicate further with Sheehan. Negotiations proceeded, though 
some questioned the wisdom of starting an organ fund "in the light 
of a recent expression by Mr. Huggins that the present building fund 
was not for such purposes." (3/5/44) Sheppard observed that the 
organ fund was separate from the building fund, and that Huggins 
could impose no restrictions on funds which the church itself raised. 
The church went ahead with its plans, and on November 5, 1944, the 
deacons heard Sheehan's proposal. The minutes report: 

The pastor presented a letter from Mr. Shehan [sic] which stated that 
he had or could get materials to install an organ for $3500 plus $500 for 
Vox Humana pipes and a concert harp, and that he could probably 
begin installation around the first of the year if a contract were drawn 
reasonably soon. The pastor submitted a set of recommendations, a 
copy of which is attached, which briefly were that the church proceed to 
have the organ installed and solicit contributions to pay for it over and 
above the regular contributions. It was moved and carried that the 
board go on record as approving the idea of putting in the organ and 
that the matter be turned over to the business board for study and 

The Business Board acted quickly, took the matter before the 
church at its next regular conference, and the church approved the 
plan. A campaign to raise the funds was launched immediately. By 


the end of March $2500 had been pledged and the order for the organ 
was placed with Mr. Sheehan. Then came disappointment: Sheehan 
canceled the contract because he could not get the materials. No other 
organ company could be found which could do anything until after 
the war was over. The church had to wait. 

Meanwhile changes were taking place in the leadership of the 
choir. From October, 1940, until June, 1943, Miss Ethel Rowland was 
choir director. After she resigned, "Mrs. Steed and Mr. Peeler" were 
asked to work with the choir on an interim basis. At the end of the 
year, however, they asked to be relieved. On February 6, 1944, "The 
music committee reported that Miss Geraldine Cate had been ob- 
tained to direct the choir at the same salary as we had been paying the 
previous choir director." At the next meeting of the deacons "There 
was some discussion of the work of the choir, after which it was 
moved and carried that the Board express to Miss Cate and the choir 
their appreciation of the fine music being rendered." (3/5/44) 

Miss Cate was a member of the faculty of St. Mary's College. A 
native of Columbia, South Carolina, she earned a Bachelor of Arts 
degree from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Music 
degree from Westminster Choir College. After her studies at West- 
minster she went to Silliman University in the central Philippines, 
organized the music department there, and remained for five years. 
She came home on furlough in 1939, knowing that she probably 
would never return to her work in the Philippines. She spent a year at 
Columbia University earning a Master of Music degree, and joined 
the faculty of St. Mary's in 1940. Although the church was not aware 
of it at the time, in securing her services in 1944, it resolved the prob- 
lem of leadership in its music program for many years to come. Under 
Miss Cate's leadership the Pullen choir soon became widely recog- 
nized for the high quality of its work and for its integration of music 
into the total worship service. 

More than at any earlier period in the history of the church, the 
minutes of the deacons' meetings during the war years reflect a con- 
cern for matters other than the business affairs of the church. At the 
meeting on May 3, 1942, "There was a very fine, frank discussion of 
the spiritual welfare of the church and ways and means of improving 
the general spiritual morale." In the meeting of March 7, 1943, 

The chairman suggested that he and Dr. Mumford go over the church 
roll and get a list of the names of the members who have become indif- 
ferent and that these names be distributed among the board of deacons. 
It was felt that a real need exists for aggressive action by the board in 
building the spiritual morale of the church and that contacting indif- 
ferent members would be a good place to start. 


At the next meeting 

Mr. Rackliffe again suggested that a list of new families moving into 
the community be made up as a working basis for increasing the church 
membership. It was suggested that the names be given the secretary at 
each meeting. The board members could then volunteer to visit them. 
The pastor suggested making these visits especially to invite all new- 
comers to the special services during the week preceding Easter. 

Although no vote was taken, the suggestion was implemented, for at 
the next meeting "Reports on visiting were heard from various 
members. The Chairman read a list of other names to be visited." The 
August 4 minutes note that "The list of 'possibilities' was reviewed 
and four new names added." In December, 1943, just before the elec- 
tion of deacons, "Mr. Jordan suggested that the board of deacons ask 
the pastor to lead them in a study of a book on being a deacon by Mr. 
Burroughs." On April 7, 1944, "Mr. Sheppard discussed what it 
meant to be a deacon." On September 16, 1945, at the beginning of 
the meeting, "Mr. Sheppard stated that originally the duties of the 
deacons were (1) to look after the widows (2) to distribute bread and 
wine. In addition to these two duties deacons are now considered to be 
spiritual leaders in the Church and examples of Christian living." 

The support of evening services was a continuing problem during 
the war years. As had long been the case, the deacons were unwilling 
to discontinue them; yet apparently few were willing to participate in 
them. On May 3, 1942, the deacons talked about "the spiritual welfare 
of the church and ways and means of improving the general spiritual 
morale." In that discussion Dr. Caviness and Mr. Sikes "urged greater 
support of the evening services." At the meeting of April 4, 1943, "Dr. 
Mumford entered a plea for more faithful support of the mid-week 
services by the deacons." On October 3: 

Dr. Caviness suggested that this group lend greater support to the even- 
ing and prayer services of the church. Dr. Mumford pointed out that 
this board has voted several times for the continuation of the prayer 
meetings, but very few have supported it by their presence. Mr. Baker 
recalled a recent visit to a country church in eastern North Carolina 
which had 60 odd people at their prayer services even though no pastor 
was available. Several other comments were made along this line and 
many expressed a desire to see the prayer service reinstated. 

The word "reinstated" suggests that they had been discontinued, if 
not by deliberate decision then by default. Were they reinstated? Was 
there any greater interest after that discussion? The next hint is found 
in the minutes for September 2, 1945, two years later, when the pastor 
included in his report on church activities the statement that "Greater 
emphasis will be placed on evening services." 


The war did not prevent the church from continuing its efforts to 
minister to college students. Each fall it contacted incoming students 
at State and at Meredith, and those contacts met with some success. 
On June 4, 1944, the deacons appointed a committee "to look into the 
possibilities of getting additional help in handling student and Sun- 
day School work." That committee acted quickly and recommended 
that "a student worker be employed from the Meredith College stu- 
dent body" for the 1944-45 school year. The recommendation was 
approved, and the pastor and the chairman of the Business Board 
were given the power to act. Miss Doris Gene Bowman was employed 
and began her work in September. The next year Miss Elizabeth Mur- 
ray became church secretary and student worker. 

In 1942 the deacons gave a great deal of attention to the organiza- 
tional structure of the church. The minutes for January 4 report the 
suggestion for the appointment of two new committees, a coordinat- 
ing committee "to act as a laison [sic] group between the board of 
deacons and the various branches of the church" and a community 
service committee to be responsible "for whatever community services 
that may be required of the church as a community organization." On 
February 1 Mr. Baker volunteered to call a meeting of the church 
committee chairmen at which they might "outline and coordinate the 
activities and duties of their respective groups." At the next session of 
the deacons he reported that the meeting had been held and suggested 
that "it might prove very advantageous for the chairmen of the var- 
ious committees to hold more or less regular meetings and that the 
chairmen be called on periodically for a report to the executive 

The organizational concern came up also in connection with the 
church financial structure. On May 3, 1942, Dr. Caviness proposed the 
establishment of a committee that would have authority to receive and 
disburse funds. A committee was appointed to consider the matter, 
and on June 7 it presented a proposed organizational structure. On 
July 5 the deacons voted to approve the plan and to recommend to the 
church that it be adopted. The matter was presented to the church at 
its regular conference on October 1. While the minutes of that confer- 
ence have been lost, it is apparent from passing references in later 
minutes that the recommendation was approved. The most conclusive 
reference is found in the minutes for January 7, 1945: 

Mr. Rackiiffe, as chairman of the Business Board, presented an outline 
of the organization of the Church as approved in 1942. The Board of 
Deacons suggested that the outline be reconsidered in relation to recent 
changes. The suggestion by the business board to retain the members of 
the service board and the business board for a two year term was to be 
thought over. 


A question was raised in one of the meetings of the deacons about 
how long an individual should serve on the board. On December 20, 
1942, Dr. Caviness asked that "some action be taken to devise a system 
of retaining deacons on the board so their advice and talents will not 
be temporarily inaccessible to the church." A committee was ap- 
pointed, with Caviness as chairman, to consider the question and 
report to the board "as soon as possible." Nearly a year later, on 
November 7, 1943, the committee reported: 

Mr. Wilson reported for the committee which was appointed to review 
the present system of requiring deacons to be elected for a 4-year term, 
after which they must become inactive for one year before being eligible 
for reelection. The report recommended that every deacon duly or- 
dained by the church be kept in active service unless some just reason 
arises for discontinuing his services. A copy of the full report is at- 
tached. Mr. Wilson moved the adoption of the report and it was 
seconded. Dr. Caviness defended the report on the following grounds: 
(1) It is the scriptural method, (2) There has been or could be under- 
hand methods of getting men elected to the board under the present 
system, (3) Those duly ordained deacons who are not re-elected are con- 
sidered embarrassed, (4) This could be the reason for this church not 
having grown in the past 15 years. After further discussion the motion 

A committee was then appointed to draw up rules for the election 
of deacons, to be used if the church approved the recommendation. 
What happened to the recommendation? There are no church min- 
utes for the period. The minutes of the deacons' meeting on February 
6, 1944, speak of a question as to "the interpretation of the rules for 
eligibility to the board as a life deacon." A committee asked to deal 
with the matter reported on April 7 with the recommendation "that 
the rule be construed to mean that a man must have served 12 years as 
a deacon in this church." The recommendation was approved. Then, 
at that same meeting, 

There ensued considerable discussion as to the desirablity of retaining 
offices of life deacon and the rules of eligibility for such an office. It was 
moved and seconded that the board recommend to the church that it 
rescind rules of eligibility for the office of life deacon. A substitute 
motion was offered and carried that the board recommend to the church 
that the present rules be rescinded and that the board appoint a com- 
mittee to offer a substitute for the present rule. 

Although the committee was appointed, no later minutes refer to any 
report from it. 

During the war years Pullen Memorial Church was trying to main- 
tain a normal church life for its people. The pastor's sermons were 
full of references to the way things were going in the world. While we 
have no information about what went on in the Sunday school and in 
the organizations of the church, it is highly unlikely that current 


events were ignored. The most complete records of church activities 
during that period are the minutes of the deacons' meetings. Those 
minutes occasionally refer to the war effort, to Pullen members who 
were in the armed services, and to limitations under which the church 
had to labor because of the conflict. The deacons seem to have felt 
that the church should carry on as best it could until things returned 
to normal. That attitude is well reflected in the concluding statement 
in the minutes for March 4, 1945: "Mr. Sheppard made some remarks 
emphasizing the need for building on a solid rock particularly in 
preparation for the return of the members of the armed forces." 

The end of the war came in September, 1945. Few people had the 
insight of General Douglas MacArthur into the implications of what 
was called "the ultimate weapon." From the Missouri, where the 
peace treaty with Japan was signed, he broadcast to the American 

A new era is upon us. . . . Men since the beginning of time have sought 
peace. . . . Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all 
in turn have failed, leaving the only path to be by the way of the cruci- 
ble of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blots out this alterna- 
tive. We have had our last chance. If we do not devise some greater and 
more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door. 

The United Nations was organized in 1945, and it is impossible to 
assess fairly its effectiveness in promoting peace. In spite of its efforts, 
however, in the first ten years of its existence old national hostilities 
were revived and new ones came into being. Germany was divided 
and occupied by the Four Powers. The West busied itself with War 
Crimes trials, with the reconstruction of war-torn areas, and with 
defense pacts directed at Soviet expansionism. The United States 
implemented the Marshall Plan for European recovery, spent billions 
on foreign aid and other billions on "Point Four" economic assist- 
ance to undeveloped nations. The Soviet Union consolidated its con- 
trol of Eastern Europe. The Reds in China proclaimed the People's 
Republic, Indonesia became independent, Vietnam was pardoned, 
and there were continuing disputes between India, Pakistan, and Red 
China. The Arab League was formed, Israel became an independent 
nation, African countries were torn by terrorist activities, and Greece 
was disrupted by a civil war. 

For three years, 1950-1953, the United States was involved in the 
fierce war in Korea. At the close of World War II Korea had been 
partitioned at the 38th Parallel. On June 25, 1950, the forces of the 
People's Democratic Republic of Korea (North Korea) crossed the line 
to attack the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The United Nations 
committed itself to the defense of South Korea, and although eighteen 
countries sent troops to the area, the United States carried the main 


burden of that commitment. In the battle that raged back and forth 
across the 38th Parallel some two million men were killed or 
wounded. The nation had been ill-prepared for involvement in the 
war, and at the outset most Americans had approved of our interven- 
tion. Everyone expected it to end earlier than it did, however, and 
Eisenhower's promise to bring it to "an early and honorable end" 
was a major element in his campaign for the presidency. When the 
cease-fire agreement was signed, on July 27, 1953, the boundary was 
drawn at almost exactly the same place where it had been at the 
beginning of the conflict. 

In the United States the struggle for civil rights was taking shape. 
In December, 1946, President Truman appointed a Committee on 
Civil Rights to study the situation and to make recommendations. Its 
report, issued ten months later, urged a federal anti-lynching law, 
new laws against police brutality, equal opportunity to vote, equal 
educational opportunity, and federal action to end segregation. It 
further recommended the establishment of a permanent federal com- 
mission on civil rights. Truman began immediately to try to imple- 
ment some of the recommendations. He persuaded the Democratic 
National Convention to adopt such a strong civil rights plank in its 
1948 platform that some southern Democratic leaders bolted and 
formed the States Rights Party. Between 1946 and 1948 the civil rights 
provisions governing federal and military employment were strength- 
ened. In 1948 the Supreme Court ruled against racially restrictive cov- 
enants in housing. The National Association for the Advancement of 
Colored People was challenging various kinds of discriminatory 
practices throughout the country and was winning many of its court 
cases. Then, on May 17, 1954, the Supreme Court handed down its 
momentous decision that "separate but equal" provisions for blacks 
in the public schools were unconstitutional. 

In the late '40's and early '50's the United States was victimized by a 
Communist scare that affected almost every area of life. It was 
touched off by the disclosures made by former Communists Elizabeth 
Bentley, Louis Budenz, and Whittaker Chambers. They named as 
Communist spies, among others, Alger Hiss, a former governmental 
official; and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. Ultimately those three were 
convicted on a variety of charges and sentenced to prison terms. In 
1950 Senator Joseph R. McCarthy began his climb to power as 
chairman of various Senate investigating committees. He first attracted 
general attention by accusing the State Department of harboring 
Communists. After that, until 1954, he was constantly in the news 
with his accusations of other people, many of them in government. A 
growing number of people came to consider him irresponsible and 
dangerous as more and more people were subjected to arbitrary inves- 
tigation and untold numbers were victimized by unfounded rumors. 


In the rapidly expanding "Communist hunt," prominent church- 
men, educators, movie stars, scientists, civil rights activists, and oth- 
ers were brought under suspicion. In some states, including North 
Carolina, the legislatures passed "speaker ban laws" which pro- 
hibited Communists from speaking in state-supported institutions. 
Suspicion and fear raged across the nation. In 1954, however, the 
Army-McCarthy hearings suddenly brought an end to McCarthy's 
effectiveness and prepared the way for a more realistic understanding 
of the Communist presence in this country. That change did not 
come, however, before a great deal of damage was done both to many 
individuals and to the civil liberties of American citizens. 

In the decade following the end of World War II the United States 
experienced a significant religious revival. Church membership grew 
steadily, rising from about fifty percent of the population in 1940 to 
approximately two-thirds in 1955. On a typical Sunday in 1955 
approximately one-half of the nation's people attended some religious 
service. All major denominations shared in the growth; all engaged in 
programs of constructing new buildings; all overhauled their reli- 
gious education and youth programs; all took a new look at their 
worship services; and all found an increasing number of people seek- 
ing seminary training. 

The best-known person associated with this revival of religion was 
William F. (Billy) Graham. Graham's early work in the "Youth for 
Christ Crusade" launched his evangelistic career. In 1949 he con- 
ducted a large-scale revival in Los Angeles, the success of which pro- 
pelled him into full-time evangelism. He conducted campaigns in the 
United States, England, Scotland, Continental Europe, the Middle 
East, the Far East, and Africa. In 1950 he started a radio program, 
"The Hour of Decision," and soon after that was making use of both 
television and the movies. He built a large and efficient organization 
and was soon counting "decisions for Christ" by the thousands. 
Although he was a Baptist, his campaigns were never denomina- 
tional. He preached a traditional evangelical message and always tried 
to secure broad church support in every city in which he preached. He 
always had careful plans made by an interdenominational group of 
churches before he went into a city; he trained people to serve as 
counselors at the meetings; and he tried to get the people who made 
decisions to establish contact with local churches. 

Another less-heralded facet of the renewal of interest in religion was 
a search by many people for inner peace and serenity. That search was 
expressed, and perhaps aided, by a religious literature which drew 
upon the insights of popular psychology. In 1946 Rabbi Joshua Loth 
Liebman published his widely read Peace of Mind. Two years later 
Norman Vincent Peale, minister of the Marble Collegiate Church in 


New York, published A Guide to Confident Living. His later book, 
The Power of Positive Thinking, published in 1952, became a long- 
time best seller. On the Catholic side, Fulton J. Sheen published in 
1949 his popular Peace of Soul. Both Sheen and Peale became well- 
known television personalities by teaching popular psychology with 
religious overtones. 

Roman Catholicism shared in the benefits of the general religious 
revival, and between 1940 and 1960 its membership doubled. Some 
growth came from continuing immigration and some from an increas- 
ing birth rate, but some also came from the winning of converts. 
There was also an internal stirring as the Church became more open 
to new trends in biBlical scholarship, in theological discussion, and 
in liturgical developments. 

It would not be correct to say that the Roman Catholic Church and 
the Protestant churches were antagonistic toward each other. It would 
be correct to observe, however, that certain tensions persisted and that 
they became apparent at a number of points. When President Roose- 
velt had named a "personal representative" to the Vatican many Pro- 
testants had been disturbed. When President Truman proposed to 
name an ambassador to the Vatican overt opposition emerged, partic- 
ularly in the founding of an organization named "Protestants and 
Other Americans United for the Separation of Church and State." 
That organization, of which McNeill Poteat was one of the leaders, 
concerned itself not only with the issue of diplomatic relationships 
with the Vatican but also with the use of tax money for parochial 

A major event in twentieth-century Christianity was the organiza- 
tion of the World Council of Churches at a conference held in Ams- 
terdam in 1948. The basis for membership in that group was the 
acceptance of "our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Saviour." Twenty- 
eight American denominations, including the Northern (later Ameri- 
can) Baptist Convention, affiliated with the Council. Southern Bap- 
tists, however, did not join. 

Two years after the organization of the World Council, the Na- 
tional Council of the Churches of Christ was formed. Some thirty 
American denominations, which had been cooperating through the 
Federal Council of Churches and through several other missionary, 
educational, and social service causes organizations, created this new 
comprehensive Council. Included in the group of participating denomi- 
nations were the main line white Protestant denominations, the five 
major black churches, and four churches of the Eastern Orthodox 
background. Three Baptist denominations were in the group, includ- 
ing the Northern Baptists. Again the Southern Baptist Convention 
did not participate. 


Post-war Raleigh was not significantly different from other parts of 
the country. There was a rapid growth in population and there was a 
resurgence of building. In 1940 the city had just under forty-seven 
thousand people; in 1950 the population topped sixty-five thousand. 
Some growth came as the boundaries of the city were expanded, but 
most came when people from rural areas moved to the city. Automo- 
biles again became available, and like the rest of the nation the people 
of Raleigh loved their cars. There was, consequently, an immediate 
need for road and street construction. A belt line to speed traffic 
around the city was proposed in 1946. Raleigh began to experience 
urban sprawl as industrial centers and housing developmetns and 
apartment complexes were constructed. State government expanded, 
bringing more people to the city and requiring more buildings. City 
government expanded also, bringing still more new buildings and 
more people. Newspapers thrived and radio stations prospered. The 
churches grew and renewed their plans for building new facilities. 

Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, as other churches, renewed her 
efforts to implement delayed projects. As the financial situation of the 
church improved, the deacons began to think about reviving the plan 
to construct the new sanctuary. They first discussed that matter in 
1946. In the spring of 1947 they considered it again, but decided that it 
would be best to wait. The need for an organ came up again, and the 
deacons frequently discussed the possibility of acquiring one. Author- 
ized by the deacons to investigate, the music committee reported on 
October 5, 1947, "that we should be able to obtain an organ this 
month." Again, however, the deacons decided to delay action. 

For a brief time after the war the church had an assistant to the 
pastor. At their meetings the deacons spoke appreciatively of the work 
of Miss Elizabeth Murray, who held that position. She had begun her 
work, which included both educational and secretarial responsibili- 
ties, in 1945. In the spring of 1948 she requested a leave of absence 
through August, and her request was granted. At the first of August, 
however, she presented her resignation. After that the church was to 
have no other assistant to the pastor until 1954. 

Late in 1948 Mrs. Betsy Wooden was employed as part-time secre- 
tary. Mrs. Wooden had grown up in Pullen Church, the daughter of 
Fred and Bessie Ball Senter. She had graduated from Hugh Morson 
High School, had attended Meredith College, and had secured secre- 
tarial training at Hardbarger's Business School. Before coming to 
Pullen she had worked for a time with the state legislature, and for a 
time with the State Department of Public Instruction. Her husband 
had been killed in the invasion of Normandy in June, 1944, leaving 
her with two small children. Her employment at Pullen was initially 
part-time, but soon became full-time, and she was to remain in that 
position until her retirement in 1980. 


To help finance its student ministry, the church received assistance 
from the Baptist State Convention, though there was constant uncer- 
tainty about how long that would last. On April 14, 1946, the deacons 
appointed a committee to "inquire of Mr. Huggins when the $1200 
on the secretary's salary will be paid." At their next meeting, they 
heard that there was "no action from Mr. Huggins as yet." In early 
October, however, Huggins wrote the pastor: 

Following our conversation, I have looked at our records and I find that 
our committee voted sometime ago to provide $500 to help Pullen 
Church in keeping Miss Murray this year, it being understood that this 
was done to help until such time as a Student Secretary for the City of 
Raleigh should begin work. Check in that amount is enclosed herewith, 
being made to your treasurer, Roy Medlin. It appears this will be all we 
can do this calendar year. As for next year, contact me along toward the 
end of the year in order that we may have this in mind in making up 
the budget. It may be that the Board will feel that we can help some 
particularly in view of the fact that you are taking care of so many of 
the students from the State School for the Blind in addition to the stu- 
dents from State College. 

In the fall of 1946 the deacons considered the question of recom- 
mending that women be elected to the Board of Deacons. No woman 
had served on that board since those first four who were elected in 
1927. Informal discussion must have taken place prior to the meeting 
of August 4, for at that time, "After considerable discussion it was 
decided to obtain an expression from the W.M.U. as to the placing of 
women on the Board of Deacons." The question was taken to the 
circle meetings, and the records show reports from five circles. Four 
approved, though in one of them the judgment was not unanimous. 
The other reported that it did not matter whether deacons were male 
or female, "just so they were qualified." At a called meeting of the 
deacons, then, held on August 11, the deacons made a surprising deci- 
sion. In spite of the fact that they had taken the initiative in the dis- 
cussion, and in spite of the fact that the responses of the women were 
overwhelmingly favorable, they decided not to take a recommendation 
to the church. The minutes report: "Motion defeated that a recom- 
mendation go to the Church that the same number of deacons be 
elected and either men or women be elected. Motion passed that we 
drop the matter until the women request election on the Board." 

In December, 1945, Lee Sheppard was involved in a serious con- 
troversy. Throughout his ministry at Pullen he had been quite forth- 
right in his statements on the race issue, and was clearly more pro- 
gressive than some, though not all, of the members of Pullen 
Memorial Church. Apparently there had been no serious criticism of 
him for any position he had taken. On Monday, December 7, 1945, 
the Raleigh Times reported and editorialized upon a statement that 


Sheppard had made in an address to the Progressive Voters League at 
Shaw University. In that article he was referred to as the "president of 
the Committee for North Carolina of the Southern Conference of 
Human Welfare." The article attacked James Dombrowski, executive 
secretary of the Southern Conference of Human Welfare, as a "consort 
of Communist bigshots and a man whose political jingoism had 
brought him under surveillance of the Dies Committee on Un- 
American Activities." It also claimed "that the Human Welfare Con- 
ference, wittingly or unwittingly, is a political arm of the Communist 
party; that through Dombrowski and persons of his ilk is a means of 
agitating in favor of the Fair Employment Practices Committee; that 
it provokes ill will between the races and foments discontent — at least 
in the South." Most of the comments on Sheppard came near the end 
of the editorial: 

In his speech, the Rev. Sheppard recalls the story of the Negro who 
was asked what he considered a fitting punishment for Adolph Hitler. 
The Negro, according to the pastor, replied, "Just change his skin to 
black and make him live in the South — that will be punishment 

This story is an insult to the Negro race. For a man of the cloth to 
give it circulation is deplorable. Does the Rev. Sheppard expect to con- 
tribute to a sensible solution to the race problem by publicly voicing 
this libel upon every white Southerner? 

Incitements such as this can set at naught the progress being made 
toward a solution of the race question. Certainly the recounting of the 
story was ill-advised, for it presents the sorry spectacle of a minister 
with one foot in the pulpit and the other upon the soapbox, exhorting 
not to Christian reasoning but bracketing the Southern Negro with 
Adolph Hitler. 

Although no further statements appeared in the newspaper, the 
matter was widely discussed in the community and among members 
of Pullen Memorial Church. On Wednesday, December 19, 1945, 
Sheppard addressed the following letter to the deacons: 

In view of certain recent news articles and editorials appearing in The 
Raleigh Times concerning the Southern Conference of Human Welfare, 
the North Carolina Committee thereof, and, directly and indirectly 
myself, I should like the opportunity of relating to the Board of Dea- 
cons, and to other interested members of the Church, the information I 
have concerning these organizations, and my connection thereto. 

After conference with the chairman, A. J. Rigney, I am calling a special 
meeting of the Board at the Church, Friday evening, December 21, 7:30 
o'clock. Please feel free to bring with you any other members of the 
Church who would like to come. 

The discussion in the meeting was free and sometimes heated. Shep- 
pard defended both the Southern Conference and his own statements. 
Some of the deacons were in strong agreement with the Times; others 


fully supported Sheppard and his right to speak. At least two deacons 
recommended that no issue be forced, with the expectation that the 
matter would soon be forgotten. No motion was made in that meet- 
ing, and no action taken; Sheppard had called the meeting to invite 
discussion and to present his position, and that objective had been 

At the next regular meeting of the Board of Deacons on January 6, 
1946, however, most of the discussion dealt again with Sheppard's 
association with the Conference and his statement at Shaw. The mat- 
ter had not died down, but had been discussed both by church 
members and by the community at large. When the issue came up in 
the deacon's meeting, Sheppard said, according to the minutes: 

Nothing further to say that hasn't already been said and a mountain has 
been made out of nothing. He said he wished the members would stand 
behind him as the folks out in town have done. Anything he can do to 
help and encourage the negro people he will do. He. is a child of God 
and a member of the human race. 

One deacon expressed a judgment shared by several: "The matter 
should be settled or it will hurt the church." Some thought that the 
deacons should settle it among themselves; others thought it should 
be taken to the church. At one point Sheppard "Stated he would pre- 
sent his resignation anytime 5 members of the board decide it would 
be best and present their reasons. He wants it clarified here or will 
bring it to the church." Thereupon another deacon said that "He did 
not believe the problem should be brought before the church. Thought 
the pastor should apologize for the statement. Sheppard in the com- 
mittee work is looked on as the pastor of Pullen Memorial Church 
and may be related to communism." After further discussion Shep- 
pard stated: "I'm not going to resign although the board has a right 
to fire. I have an obligation to stay with this church and preach the 
gospel that all men are of one blood." The final statement of one 
deacon sounds a bit folksy: "Folks talk too much. Nobody is as much 
worried about this as we are. Trouble with the church is lack of lead- 
ership in the board of deacons." 

The matter did not come before the deacons again. At the church 
conference on January 9, 1946, the "Annual Report of Chairman of 
Board of Deacons" contained no direct reference to the problem. The 
minutes for the rest of the time that Sheppard was pastor reflect a 
good working relationship between the pastor and the deacons. Further- 
more, Sheppard does not seem to have felt that his freedom was in any 
way restricted by the controversy. On Sunday night, December 1, 1946, 
for example, he reported to the congregation on the meeting of the 
Baptist State Convention, focusing on the Convention's action "in 
regard to racial segregation in Baptist churches." On May 18, 1947, he 


reported on the meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention and 
called attention to the statement which that Convention had adopted 
on race relations. The church clearly did not intend to impose any 
restrictions upon its minister. 

Sheppard's preaching during those post-war years, therefore, was a 
continuation of the same type that had been characteristic of the war 
years. Between September, 1945, and December, 1946, the News and 
Observer summarized forty-one of Sheppard's sermons. All were based 
on New Testament texts, and most on texts from the Gospels. He 
stressed the importance of the church, the necessity of the individual 
following Christ, and the necessity of the believer working through 
the church for the cause of world peace. He was concerned with the 
need for reconstructing the war-torn world, for working for peace 
between people, for setting a proper sense of values. He believed that 
evil in the world would be overcome by the power of God working 
through people who responded to the leadership of Christ. 

Near the end of 1947 Lee Sheppard resigned from Pullen to accept a 
call to the First Baptist Church of Columbia, Missouri. Exactly when 
he presented his resignation to the church we do not know, but he 
ended his pastorate on October 31. On November 12 the Biblical 
Recorder published the statement of appreciation which had been 
drawn up by the deacons and adopted by the church: 

Pullen Memorial Baptist Church records with keen regret the resigna- 
tion of its beloved pastor, the Reverend Lee C. Sheppard, who has felt 
called to accept the pastorate of the First Baptist Church in Columbia, 
Missouri. We are grateful, however, that for almost ten years he has 
lived and served among us. Through the coming years we shall recall 
our delightful fellowship with him, the vitality of his Christian expe- 
rience as reflected in the pulpit and in the discharge of his civic respon- 
sibilities, and his effective leadership in the continually expanding pro- 
gram of our church. 

Mr. Sheppard, his gracious and capable wife, and children will have 
our abiding devotion. We pray God's richest blessings may attend them 
and all of their interests in their new field of service. 

At the recommendation of the deacons, the church approved a pas- 
toral search committee comprised of three members from the W.M.S., 
three members from the Sunday School, the church Pulpit Committee 
of three members, and three persons selected from the board of dea- 
cons. Dr. Z. M. Caviness was chosen chairman, and the committee 
began work immediately. On Sunday, August 1, 1948, upon the 
unanimous recommendation of the committee, the church voted to 
invite Dr. E. McNeill Poteat to return as pastor. 

Poteat had ended his first pastorate at Pullen Memorial Baptist 
Church in September, 1937. From that time until the end of 1943 he 
had been pastor of the Euclid Avenue Baptist Church in Cleveland, 


Ohio. In February, 1944, he had assumed the presidency of Colgate- 
Rochester Divinity School in Rochester, New York. He did not find 
administrative responsibilities entirely to his liking. Furthermore, his 
health suffered seriously from the pressures of that situation. The Bib- 
lical Recorder had reported on July 21, 1948: 

Dr. Edwin McNeill Poteat, president of the Colgate-Rochester Divinity 
School since February, 1944, has presented his resignation to the Execu- 
tive Committee of the Board of Trustees of the school, to take effect not 
later than September 30 of this year. In his letter of resignation 
Dr. Poteat stated that his recent serious illness made it imperative that 
he give up administrative responsibilities in the interest of complete 
physical recovery. The Executive Committee has acceded to his request 
and has appointed a committee to secure a successor to Dr. Poteat. 
Dr. Poteat's many friends in this section of the country are much inter- 
ested in his welfare and hope that he will make a complete recovery 

During the years at Euclid Avenue and at Colgate-Rochester, Poteat 
had continued to write and had published six books: Centurion, a 
narrative poem, in 1939; These Shared His Passion in 1940; These 
Shared His Cross in 1941; Four Freedoms and God in 1943; Over the 
Sea, the Sky, a collection of poetry, in 1945; and Last Reprieve} in 
1946. The Christian Century had continued to publish his poetry. For 
that same journal he had written in 1939 an article entitled "Search- 
ing for Greater Loyalties," the sixth in a series by eminent theolo- 
gians on "How My Mind Has Changed in This Decade." (Christian 
Century, February 22, 1939) And in 1943 he had published in that 
journal an article entitled "Logic or Life?" and subtitled "A Baptist 
View of Church Federal Union." (Christian Century, April 28, 1943). 

Poteat was one of a small group of Protestant churchmen who, on 
January 4, 1948, organized "Protestants and Other Americans United 
for the Separation of Church and State." The precipitating factor was 
President Harry Truman's proposal to appoint an ambassador to the 
Vatican. They were also concerned about the use of tax funds to pro- 
vide transportation for pupils to parochial schools. They stated in 
their "manifesto" that they had no controversy with the Roman 
Catholic Church, but that they would oppose any move to use 
government funds in direct or indirect support of the activities of any 
religious group. Along with Poteat, the founders were Methodist 
Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam; Louie D. Newton, President of the 
Southern Baptist Convention; John A. Mackay, President of Princeton 
Theological Seminary; and Charles Clayton Morrison, former editor 
of the Christian Century. (N&O, 1/12/48) 

After he left Pullen in 1937, Poteat maintained his connections in 
the area and was often back for a variety of engagements. With Lee 
Sheppard presiding, he preached at the West Raleigh vesper services 


I I I 

it f ,11 i 

l l 

E. McNeill Poteat, Jr. 
Minister 1948-1955 


on July 11, 1938. An excerpt from one of his sermons was published 
in the Biblical Recorder for December 6, 1939. He was at Pullen again 
on January 14, 1940. In March he was in Raleigh to address the North 
Carolina Education Association. In June, 1941, he preached to the 
graduates of Woman's College in Greensboro. In January, 1942, he 
spoke at the Raleigh United Church's annual Institute of Religion, 
and on the occasion of that visit he preached at Pullen. In December, 
1942, he preached at Duke Chapel and spoke at the evening service at 
Pullen on the same day. In June, 1943, he preached the baccalaureate 
sermon at North Carolina State. After he became president at Colgate- 
Rochester his visits to Raleigh were less frequent, but they did not 
cease altogether. It must have taken a great deal of grace on Lee 
Sheppard's part to welcome so frequently to Pullen the former pastor 
who was so well-known and so much-appreciated by the congrega- 

Before he accepted the call to return to Pullen, Poteat put into writ- 
ing his understanding of what would be expected of him and what he 
woud expect of the church. He wrote: 

In the light of my knowledge of the people and the general situation 
at P.M. B.C., if I were to be invited to accept its pastoral leadership, I 
should be inclined to ask for agreement by the Church to several 

1. My main responsibilities would be: 

a. General supervision of the Church life, in terms of organiza- 
tions, and long and short range planning. 

b. The ministry of preaching and worship. 

c. The pastoral and counseling responsibility. 

2. The main responsibilities of the Church — as represented both by 
chosen officers and the congregation at large 

a. To support the pastor in the maintenance of a free pulpit from 
which the moral and spiritual dynamics of the christian faith 
can be constructively and boldly proclaimed. 

b. To provide the minister the opportunity of maintaining such 
national and denominational (State and Nation) contacts as 
will contribute constructively to the preaching of the Christian 
Gospel and the growing interests of the P.M.B. Church and the 
Kingdom at large. The minister will agree to a maximum 
number of Sunday absences during the year, exclusive of vaca- 
tion of six weeks. 

c. To provide financial support to the program agreed upon by 
the Church. This will include 

(1) the compensation of the pastor 

(2) the provision of a home (details to be agreed upon) 

(3) the maintenance of the Annuity Benefits under the South- 
ern Baptist Convention for the pastor, and provisions for 
attendance on Baptist Conventions — State and Southwide. 


It is further contemplated that within such a time as is necessary for 
careful planning, an Associate Minister shall be secured who will exer- 
cise supervision over certain agreed on administrative responsibilities, 
and give particular and major concern to the development of a student 
program in connection with the Church. 

Concerning the item "b" under "1," (Ministry of preaching and wor- 
ship), there will be only one formal, regular preaching worship service 
per Sunday. Such activities as may be organized for Sunday evenings, in 
which the pastor shall have responsibility for planning and administra- 
tion, shall be devoted largely to young peoples group meetings, vespers, 

A mid-week service for devotion and Bible study and church fellow- 
ship activities shall be the pastor's responsibility. 

Poteat expected to begin his second term with Pullen on the first of 
November, 1948. On his way to Raleigh, however, he became 
seriously ill and his arrival was delayed until December. When he did 
arrive he returned to a church which he had never fully left and was 
welcomed by a congregation many of whom remembered with great 
appreciation his first tenure as pastor. All of the congregation were 
aware that their new minister was a man of unusual abilities who had 
an international reputation for his accomplishments. 

Like Sheppard and Ellis, Poteat never considered his ministry to be 
limited to the church of which he was pastor. He was in great demand 
as a speaker in college and university circles. Between January, 1948, 
and May, 1954, he spoke at Meredith two or three times each year, 
sometimes in chapel, sometimes at the Religious Emphasis Week, and 
sometimes as Founders' Day speaker. He addressed various organiza- 
tions on the campus of North Carolina State almost as frequently. He 
spoke at other colleges: Campbell, Sweet Briar, Hollins, Coker. Sev- 
eral times he preached in the Harvard chapel. He was the finals 
speaker at the conclusion of the first year of Southeastern Seminary's 

In his first term of service at Pullen, Poteat had experienced a 
serious defeat at the Southern Baptist Convention in 1935, when his 
proposal concerning a Bureau of Social Research was rejected. Upon 
his return to the South, however, the denomination frequently called 
upon him for committee work and for public statements. Almost 
immediately upon his return to Pullen he was made a member of a 
committee to investigate and publicize the plight of Baptist displaced 
persons in Europe. In July, 1950, he was the keynote speaker at the 
meeting of the Baptist World Alliance in Cleveland. In September, 
1950, he was the speaker at the organizational meeting of Longview 
Baptist Church. In 1950 he was a member of the Baptist State Conven- 
tion's Committee on Social Service and Civic Righteousness. In 1953 
he was chairman of the Baptist State Convention's Committee on 
Religious Liberty. 


Poteat's ministry beyond Pullen was not limited to work with the 
Baptist denomination. In June, 1949, he addressed the annual confer- 
ence of the United Church of Canada. He continued to be active in 
P.O.A.U., and was often a speaker at its meetings. Twice he preached 
at the presentation of the "Lost Colony." In 1952 he addressed the 
North Carolina Press Institute. Always active in politics, he took a 
particularly strong part in the campaign of Frank Porter Graham for 
election to the Senate. His state-wide, and even nation-wide, involve- 
ment in religious and civic activities was recognized by the Raleigh 
News and Observer, which featured him as "Tar Heel of the Week" 
on October 22, 1950. He continued to write, publishing several arti- 
cles in the Biblical Recorder and a number of poems in the Christian 
Century. He published three more books: Parables of Crisis in 1950; 
God Makes the Difference in 1951; and Mandate to Humanity in 1953. 

Poteat excelled in the pulpit. He made the same social emphasis 
that had characterized his first term as pastor, and he brought to that 
emphasis sound biblical scholarship and broad knowledge of what 
was going on in the world. In addition, he had the maturity that was 
enriched by experience as pastor in a different setting and as an 
administrator of a theological school. He was knowledgeable about 
such a wide variety of fields that he was able to preach effectively to 
the intellectual community at large, and in particular to those college 
and university people who regularly participated in the services at 
Pullen. He always prepared carefully and spoke eloquently. A careful 
listener did not always agree with what Poteat said, but he always 
heard something that made him think. 

Working with Miss Geraldine Cate, Minister of Music, Poteat 
began to introduce to Pullen a different pattern of worship. Since the 
beginning of her work with Pullen, Miss Cate had chosen the best of 
church music for both choir and congregation. The order of service, 
however, though it was varied a bit from Sunday to Sunday, was 
much like that in other Baptist churches throughout the area. Shortly 
after Poteat's return, he and Cate developed a service that was more 
liturgical and that involved both choir and congregation much more 
than had been the practice. In the church bulletin for Sunday, Janu- 
ary 9, 1949, the following note appeared: 

You have observed changes in our order of worship. Since the expe- 
rience of congregational worship is enriched in such measure as the 
congregation shares in it, we are planning for maximum fuller partici- 
pation by all who enter the sanctuary. This requires that all of us fol- 
low the order of worship carefully so that the service shall suffer as little 
interruption as possible due to inattention. 

The new service incorporated litanies and prayers and responses 
drawn from the long history of the church, from hymnals and prayer 


books, from the devotional writings of great spirits of the past. From 
that time on the worship services at Pullen involved the congregation 
actively in some way in almost every part of the service — in praise and 
prayer and offering. 

A number of important developments in the life of Pullen Memo- 
rial Church occurred in the period between December, 1948, and May, 
1954. One was the construction of the long-anticipated church sanc- 
tuary. Almost from the time the church had entered its new Sunday 
school building, in 1923, church members had eagerly anticipated 
erecting a sanctuary. Over the years they had contributed to a build- 
ing fund. The fund had never grown very large, and at times some of 
it had been used in remodeling the old plant. It was always in the 
budget, however, and always the church expected to complete the 
facility. The church had been on the verge of beginning construction 
when the war broke out in 1942, and had had to abandon the project 
temporarily. They had continued to plan, however, and by the end of 
1948 there was more than $40,000 in the building fund; plans had 
been drawn by Carter Williams; and a contractor had been chosen. 
On May 7, 1949, the church approved final plans, and a groundbreak- 
ing ceremony was held on April 17. Construction was soon under 

When construction on the $200,000 project was begun the building 
fund had grown to $50,000, and the members had pledged another 
$26,500. The church borrowed $50,000, the maximum loan available 
at the time. They appealed to the Mission Board of the Baptist State 
Convention for help in the amount of $75,000. To present the case to 
the Board, Poteat prepared a document in which he stressed the activ- 
ity of the Board in assisting other churches in university settings, and 
in which he reminded the Board of the denomination's historic com- 
mitment to Pullen as a mission to students. He pointed out the fact 
that in the twenty-five years that Pullen had been at its present loca- 
tion the student body at State had increased more than five hundred 
percent; Meredith had grown and had moved to a location nearer 
Pullen than to any other Baptist church; and the State School for the 
Blind had grown significantly. The church building was quite inade- 
quate to provide a satisfactory ministry to the student population, and 
the church itself was not sufficiently strong financially to provide the 
necessary facilities. He concluded: 

The State Convention commissioned us to do a piece of work and has 
stood by waiting for us to develop to the point where it could come to 
our help 'at a later date.' That time has come. We have grown, but 
nothing like so greatly as the task has grown. We desperately need the 
help of the Board to complete the building program. After that we shall 
not ony be in a position to do the Board's work here, but to help more 
outstandingly in the Board's work elsewhere. 


'.^i<H jy-5 



As eloquent as the appeal was, the request was not granted. The 
church, however, managed to scrap together a total of $100,000. Hav- 
ing invested that much in the building, it was able to get a construc- 
tion loan for the other $100,000 necessary to complete the project. 

To help meet the financial obligation incurred by constructing the 
new building, the church reluctantly reduced its contributions to the 
Cooperative Program. For many years, in addition to the mission con- 
tributions of the Woman's Missionary Society and the special offer- 
ings for the Children's Home and the Baptist Hospital, the church 
had been contributing twenty percent of its income to the Cooperative 
Program. Meeting on June 25, 1950, the deacons agreed to recom- 
mend to the church "that we no longer contribute automatically all of 
the 20% of our annual benevolences to the Cooperative Program until 
such time as we are able financially to increase our contributions to 
the Cooperative Program." 

The first worship service in the new sanctuary was held on Sunday 
morning, October 2, 1950. On the last Sunday of that month, October 
29, in a service which the Biblical Recorder called "impressive and 
challenging," the sanctuary was formally dedicated. The Recorder 
(11/4/50) described the service: 

Dr. E. McNeill Poteat, pastor of Pullen Memorial Church, presided 
over the service and conducted the liturgy of dedication. This service 
was beautiful and impressive. The new sanctuary, with natural finish 
oak pews and gray-green walls, was filled to overflowing, and many 
people had to listen in over a public address system from two auxiliary 

Special recognition should be given to the appropriate and beautiful 
music. Miss Geraldine Cate directed the enlarged choir for the occasion 
and A. H. Arrington, Jr., played the new organ, a gift from Dr. and 
Mrs. Z. M. Caviness, which is to be dedicated November 12. 

For the first time, two antique silver urns given the church as memo- 
rials were used during the dedication services Sunday. One of the urns 
was purchased with funds contributed by the public for a memorial to 
John T. Pullen, for whom the church is named; the other was given by 
Mr. and Mrs. Roy Medlin in memory of Mrs. Medlin's mother, Mrs. 
Eula Hatcher. Both vases contained lovely flowers. 

The preacher for the service was Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick, pastor 
emeritus of Riverside Church in New York City. Fosdick based his 
sermon on Paul's question, "Despise ye the church of God?" (1 Cor. 
11:22). He said that "Only the Church's message can save the world," 
and he focused on the present opportunity of the church and the 
necessity of Christians working through the church. Denying that 
scientific progress could save the world, he said, "The road to hell is 
paved with good 'inventions.'" Then he declared: 


We must make of the Church a fellowship in worship and service. 
The Church is a symphony and it takes an orchestra of many parts to 
interpret a symphony. Christianity is like that. 

Ah, you solitary piccolo — trying to render Beethoven's Ninth Sym- 
phony alone. It can't be done, but you can help in the orchestra. (N&O, 

That morning service of dedication was very much of a public 
affair. The fact that an important church was dedicating a new sanc- 
tuary in itself attracted much attention. The fact that the guest 
preacher was the most famous pulpiteer in America lifted it far 
beyond the ordinary. In anticipation of the crowds that were expected, 
members of the congregation were issued tickets to ensure them of 
places in the sanctuary. The general public, for the most part, had to 
be satisfied with the accommodations in the overflow auditoriums. 

The evening service was a different matter. Appropriately, it was a 
celebration of the Lord's Supper, with the pastor presiding. The peo- 
ple who participated in it had long been intimately involved in the 
life and work of the church, were committed to its ministry, and 
would be trying to act in the way in which Fosdick had challenged 
them. Many others who shared just as fully in the life of the church 
could not be present, but the service nevertheless had the air of the 
family of God at worship. 

The new pipe organ, a gift to the church by Dr. and Mrs. Z. M. 
Caviness, was dedicated on November 12, 1950. In addition to all of 
his other involvement in the life of the church, Dr. Caviness was often 
on the music committee and the provision of a fine organ for the 
church had been very much on his mind. On May 7, 1950, as the 
sanctuary was under construction, Dr. Poteat announced to the dea- 
cons "that a pipe organ had been given the church by Dr. Caviness. 
Installation will be completed by Oct. 20." A. H. Arrington, Jr., gave 
the dedicatory recital. In announcing the recital the News and Ob- 
server said: 

A. H. Arrington, Jr., organist at Pullen Memorial Baptist Chruch, will 
present an organ concert at dedication services for the church's new 
two-manual organ, which will be held tomorrow afternoon at 4 o'clock. 
An augmented choir of 70 voices, under the direction of Geraldine Cate, 
will sing compositions by Bach, Mozart, and Brahms and will conclude 
with a composition by Dr. Edwin McNeill Poteat, pastor of the church. 
Dr. Poteat's composition is entitled, "Jesus Thou Joy of Loving 
Heart." Arrington will play works by Martini, Bach, Pierne, Vierne and 
Karg Ebert, and two chorale preludes by Brahms. The organ is being 
given to Pullen Memorial Baptist Church by Dr. Z. M. Caviness and his 
son, William F. Caviness. It was built by the Wicks Organ Company. 

When the new sanctuary was constructed, rose-colored cathedral 
glass was placed in the windows. From the beginning it was expected 


that some day stained glass windows would be installed. That was a 
matter which Poteat had very much on his mind, and it was a dream 
which Dr. and Mrs. Z. M. Caviness shared with him. In December, 
1952, the first five of those stained glass windows were installed in the 
chancel, the gift of Dr. and Mrs. Caviness and their son, Dr. William 
F. Caviness. Poteat had played a major role in determining their 
design. Rejecting the artist's first proposal, he suggested instead: 

The figures of the Four Evangelists flanking the central figure of Christ 
the Eternal King, are a conventional pattern widely used. It occurs to us 
that the substitution of four other figures would provide the artists with 
something original and even more significant. We are asking that you 
ask Mayer to make four panels of the following figures: Moses, Elijah 
(or Isaiah), St. Peter and St. Paul. These are representative of The Law, 
The Prophets, the First Disciples, and the Epistles (the greatest interpre- 
tation of the Gospel.) This gives a much broader sense of history, and 
brings into focus, with Christ at the center, the entire Hebrew-Christian 

Poteat's proposal was adopted and beautifully executed. On December 
14 the deacons asked him to "write a suitable item for the church in 
regard to the windows for filing with the permanent records of the 
church." Poteat wrote: 

These windows, designed according to suggestions made after much 
study of pattern and symbolism, were executed by the Franz Mayer 
Company of Munich, Germany, one of the most famous of European 
glass manufacturers. They were the gift of Dr. and Mrs. Z. M. Caviness, 
and Dr. William Fields Caviness whose devotion to the church has been 
demonstrated in many ways over many years. The pipe-organ which 
was also their gift, is now complimented by the chancel windows. 
These provide resources of beauty in color and harmony that unite the 
musical and graphic arts in the experience of devotion in a way that 
will be deeply satisfying to countless persons who will come to this 
sanctuary to worship God. To say that we are grateful to our generous 
friends is to put into poor words something that is too rich for lan- 
guage. We shall feel our gratitude in many ways over the years as we are 
helped to realize increasingly what the beauty of holiness can mean to 
those who worship God in spirit and in truth. 

In January, 1954, the two rose windows depicting the Twenty-third 
Psalm and the Beatitudes were installed. Those windows were the 
gifts of Mr. and Mrs. Wade C. Lewis, and again Poteat had a hand in 
the design. In December the Luke window was installed, the gift of 
Dr. William Caviness. Not until the early 1960's were the other win- 
dows installed. The Creation window in the chancel was given by Mr. 
and Mrs. John A. Edwards, and the Passion window was donated by 
"the congregation and friends of Pullen Memorial." Dr. George 
Paschal gave the Roger Williams windows, which are on the east side 
of the sanctuary. In memory of her husband, Mrs. Fred Wheeler gave 


the William Carey windows, which are on the west side. Along with 
the Azalene Medlin Memorial Library, they were all dedicated in a 
service on Sunday morning, April 12, 1964. 

Once the sanctuary was completed the church gave attention to the 
remodeling of the old part of the building to make it more suitable 
for use in the educational program. Early in 1953 a committee was 
appointed to begin to formulate plans. At a joint meeting of the dea- 
cons and the Business Board on April 12, 1953, preliminary plans 
were presented and approved, and the committee was authorized to 
engage an architect to draw up preliminary sketches. Again Carter 
Williams was chosen as the architect, and he worked closely not only 
with the deacons and the Business Board but also with church school 
officials. The plan called for completing the ground floor and the 
first floor immediately, and completing the second floor at a later 
date. Within a year the church had let the contract and was seeking 
ways to pay for the work. By the end of the year the new facilities were 
in use. 

The question of women deacons was finally settled in 1950. As 
noted, the first women deacons were elected, with some difference of 
opinion, in 1927. How long they served we do not know, but in 1930 
there were no women on the board and none was elected for many 
years. In the fall of 1946 the deacons had considered the matter again, 
but had taken no action. On June 4, 1950, the issue came before them 
again. According to the minutes, "Motion made and passed to have 
nominating committee confer with the Woman's Missionary Society 
and determine if it is the desire of the Society to have women serve on 
the Board of Deacons." The minutes do not report the results of the 
consultation. No church minutes have been filed which indicate that 
any action was taken by the church. The list of nominees for the 
board of deacons presented at the regular meeting of the deacons on 
September 10, 1950, contains the names of ten men, but no women. 
Yet begining in October, 1950, tour women were members of the 
board: Miss Mary Yarbrough, Mrs. E. N. Peeler, Miss Carolyn Mercer, 
and Mrs. Roy Medlin. Each year thereafter, for several years, the 
church elected four men and one woman to serve on the board. 

The support of missions was a continuing interest of Pullen Memor- 
ial Baptist Church. The church continued to see itself as a mission 
to the student population, and constantly made efforts to expand its 
work with the young people at North Carolina State, Meredith, and 
the State School for the Blind. The minutes of the deacons' meetings 
contain frequent references to that work. On December 2, 1941, for 
example, in his remarks to the deacons Poteat "stated that there were 
103 students in the College Class." 


In addition to seeing itself as a mission station, the church reflected 
a concern for missions beyond its walls — even when it found it neces- 
sary to reduce its contributions to denominational programs. Disap- 
pointed in their expectations of receiving help from the State Mission 
Board in constructing the new sanctuary, they had adopted the policy 
of withholding mission contributions budgeted for the Cooperative 
Program and applying them to the building fund. That was, of 
course, a sensitive issue, and many people were not happy with the 
plan, although they could offer no alternative. The motion passed by 
the deacons to implement the plan recommended continued support 
for the "special causes" such as the Children's Home and the Hospi- 
tal. And it recommended withholding the funds from the Cooperative 
Program only "until such time as we are able to increase our contri- 
butions." (Deacons, 6/25/50) The treasurer's summary for the year 
1951 reported an income of $45,213. The disbursements included 
$3,013 for "specials." Of the "specials" item, where the missions con- 
tributions were listed, only $712 went beyond the local church. Many 
church members were concerned about that fact. At the deacons' meet- 
ing on December 2, 1951, "Dr. Yarbrough raised the question about 
the small amount our church was paying to missions. There was 
much discussion on this point." No action was taken, but the concern 
continued. Although the income for 1952 was approximately the 
same as for 1951, the treasurer reported that the "balance on hand" as 
of January 1, 1953, was just under $5,000. In their meeting on 
December 14, 1952, the deacons had asked that "up to $1000 be paid 
into the cooperative program." The response of the Business Board 
was to recommend an increased contribution of $500, and the addi- 
tion of "a fund to be available for assistance in the organization of 
new churches in the Raleigh area when needed, including the pur- 
chase of land for church sites, in the amount of $500." (Business 
Board minutes, 1/11/53) The records do not show the final disposi- 
tion on the amount of the increase, but the treasurer's final report for 
the year 1952 contains the statement that "A payment of 2,000.00 was 
paid to the State Board for the Cooperative Mission Progam." 

Another expression of the church's missionary interest was the 
annual School of Missions, begun in 1952, and continued for many 
years. Each Sunday evening in March the church gathered for study in 
classes and for hearing missionary addresses. Each year the studies 
focused on a major area of missionary concern: Africa, Indian Ameri- 
cans, Southeast Asia, India, Pakistan, and Ceylon. Each year the lead- 
ers were people in the forefront of missionary work. And each year a 
large number of Pullen people — young and old, male and female — 
were involved in the study. The Biblical Recorder's announcement of 
the 1953 School provides a good picture of what was done each year: 


A distinguished editor of Harper's Magazine, Eugene Exman, will 
highlight the special feature of Pullen Memorial (Raleigh) Church's 
second annual School of Missions this March. Each of the five Sunday 
evenings during this month will be devoted to a study of "Africa," the 
topic chosen by representatives of 30 (thirty) protestant denominational 
boards of missions for courses this year. 

Each session will include 5:30 p.m. class periods for all ages from 
primary through adult groups, supper at 6:30, recreational features at 
7:00, and the assembly period at 7:15. . . . 

Mr. Exman, editor of Harper's department of religious books, who 
recently returned from a two-week visit with Dr. Albert Schweitzer in 
Lambarene, Africa, will be a featured speaker for the Albert Schweitzer 
evening planned for March 15. His address is scheduled for the 7:15 
assembly period. Other assembly speakers are to be Mrs. Ellen Alston 
(March 22), executive secretary of the Negro WMU, who was sent by 
that association to Africa; and Mrs. John McGee (March 8) of Durham, 
Southern Baptist missionary home on furlough from that continent, 
whose talk will be illustrated by colored slides. 

The opening assembly session (March 1) will feature the movie, 
"Challenge of Africa," and the final evening (March 29) will sum up 
the month's learning by each class group, through costumed skits and 
games. This session will be called "The Great Palaver," after the Afri- 
can term for any get-together. (BR, 2/28/53) 

The church continued to share fully in the life of the denomina- 
tion. It regularly sent messengers to the meetings of the Raleigh Bap- 
tist Association and to the Baptist State Convention. Poteat usually 
represented the church at the meetings of the Southern Baptist Con- 
vention. In February, 1950, the church shared in the responsibility for 
taking a religious census in the city of Raleigh. In October, 1950, it 
hosted the meeting of the Raleigh Baptist Association. At the deacons' 
meeting on September 7, 1952, "Dr. Poteat urged as many as possible 
to attend the meeting at the First Baptist Church on September 8th to 
hear a report of the 9-year program of the Baptist Church. He 
reported that the Com. had done a splendid job and had developed a 
statesmanlike report." On September 6, 1953, the deacons approved a 
contribution of $100 "to the new church at Carolina Pines to help 
them with their building project." At that meeting the pastor also 
encouraged attendance at a meeting "to be held at Tabernacle Church 
to discuss the Nine Year Advance Program." 

There was, however, some uneasiness about what to do about the 
denomination's cooperative revival activities. In 1950 the church 
made a small contribution toward the cost of holding a Youth Reviv- 
al in Raleigh. At the meeting of the deacons on January 8, 1951, 
Poteat "discussed briefly the South wide and State wide revival meet- 
ing. He mentioned that he was puzzled as to what we ought to do and 
asked for suggestions from the Board." The minutes do not report any 


suggestions, and there is no indication that Pullen did anything. 
Although Billy Graham's Crusade in Raleigh on November 16-18, 
1951, was not a denominational project, it did have wide support 
from the Baptists. There was no official support from Pullen, how- 
ever. At the deacons' meeting on November 4, "Dr. Poteat read a letter 
from Billy Graham headquarters asking for cooperation (1) by choir 
(2) in attendance at prayer meetings, the date and time to be an- 
nounced later (3) in enlisting personal workers for the three services of 
the Evangelisic Crusade." After the reading of that letter, the deacons 
moved on to other matters. 

As a church cooperating with the denomination, therefore, Pullen 
Memorial took a special interest in the Ferre incident. Nels F. S. Ferre, 
of the faculty of Andover Newton Divinity School, had been invited to 
address the fall, 1953, convention of the Baptist Student Union of 
North Carolina. A campaign to have that invitation withdrawn was 
mounted by some of the more conservative elements in the Baptist 
State Convention. James W. Ray, Student Secretary for the Baptist 
State Convention, refused to give in. A few days before the meeting 
was to be held, M. A. Huggins, Executive Secretary of the Baptist 
State Convention, overrode Ray and himself withdrew the invitation. 
At the Baptist State Convention, a special committee was appointed 
to study "the personnel, activities, and programs" of the State Baptist 
Student Union. In March, 1954, that committee recommended that 
Ray and two campus chaplains employed by his department be 

Pullen was concerned about these developments both because of its 
own sense of mission to students and because of the theological stance 
which the committee's recommendation represented. The minutes of 
the deacons' meeting on March 21 state: 

The chairman asked if the Board would like to take any action or 
express any opinion on the recent action of the special committee of the 
Baptist State Convention named to probe "liberalism" in the student 
union program — resulting in the recommendation for dismissal of Rev. 
James Ray, State Director of B.S.U., Rev. J. C. Herrin, Baptist chaplain 
at the University of North Carolina, and Max Wicker, chaplain at Duke 

After some discussion it was decided that because of the importance 
and significance of this matter, it would be advisable for individuals to 
write the General Board asking that action be deferred until further 
investigation could be made. 

The records made no other direct reference to the incident. There may 
have been some connection, however, between Pullen's response to 
the incident and a request from Huggins, presented to the deacons on 
August 1, that either Huggins or a member of his staff be invited "to 
meet with the leaders of our church." It was agreed that Earl Bradley 


should be invited to meet with the deacons, the W.M.U., and the 
church officers on September 8. Whether the meeting took place, and 
if so what was discussed, is not reported. 

For many years Pullen Memorial Baptist Church had seen itself as 
cooperating not only with other Baptist churches but also with the 
wider Christian community. When the Raleigh Council of Churches 
was formed in 1945, Pullen Memorial was a charter member. From 
the beginning of the North Carolina Council of Churches in 1935, 
Pullen had made an annual contribution to its support. When, there- 
fore, in 1949 the Council amended its by-laws to make possible the 
affiliation of local churches, Pullen promptly applied for mem- 

From time to time in the early 1950's the church was confronted 
with a question about its membership policy. In 1933 the church had 
begun to accept "associate members" from churches of other denomi- 
nations. In November, 1942, the deacons had debated but had taken 
no action on a proposal that "restrictions placed on Associate Mem- 
bers ... be eliminated." In 1950 Poteat brought up the matter again. 
The minutes for December 10 report: 

Dr. Poteat stated that he had made 1 100 calls this year. He was continu- 
ally encountering people who like us and wonder if they should join if 
they are not members of the Baptist Church. He raised the question 
about first and second class members. He stated that 23 churches in 
Virginia had open membership. He pointed out that this was a topic 
about which much thought should be given. 

Again no action was taken. Several years later Poteat spoke to the 
issue in one of his sermons. At the meeting of the deacons on January 
4, 1954, "The chairman raised the question as to the status of the 
associate members in our church, based upon the statement by the 
pastor in his anniversary sermon. After much discussion it was sug- 
gested that this matter be included in the proposed constitution of 
our church." 

Like many, perhaps most, other Baptist churches, Pullen Memorial 
had never had a constitution. For Pullen, as for many other churches, 
consideration of the need for a constitution was prompted by what 
happened in the North Rocky Mount Baptist Church case. For rea- 
sons that are not germane to this matter, on August 9, 1953, a major- 
ity of the members of that church had voted to withdraw from the 
Baptist State Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. The 
minority who favored remaining within the denomination began 
holding services elsewhere, but sued to gain title to the church prop- 
erty. The judge ruled that even if a majority voted to secede, the prop- 
erty belonged to the minority who remained faithful to "the doctrines, 
customs, practices, and usages" of Missionary Baptist churches. In 


making that judgment, the judge relied upon arguments about Bap- 
tist history and doctrines, not upon legal documents that actually 
spelled out the organizational and property rights of that particular 
congregation. In the aftermath of that case, with the encouragement 
of the Baptist State Convention, many churches began the process of 
adopting constitutions. The State Convention even prepared a model 
which it offered for the use of interested churches. 

The matter of a constitution was already being discussed at Pullen 
when the deacons decided (1/3/54) that the question of the status of 
associate members should be addressed in the "proposed constitution 
of our church." At the meeting of February 7, 1954, the chairman of 
the deacons appointed a committee "for drawing up the constitution 
for the church." The issue next came before the board on December 5, 
1954, when "Mr Poole brought up the subject of the new constitution 
which was to be written. Dr. Mumford, ch. of the committee, reported 
that some work had been done on the constitution." It was to be some 
time, however, before the church took action on a proposed consti- 

Another matter to which the church addressed itself was that of 
racial segregation. For many years the church had followed the policy 
of welcoming into its services all who presented themselves. There is 
no record of when that policy was established or when the first blacks 
visited the church. But during Poteat's second ministry, at least, it was 
not at all unusual for blacks to be a part of the congregation. The 
May 17, 1954, decision of the Supreme Court which declared racial 
segregation in the public schools to be unconstitutional prompted 
Christian groups to examine their own practices. Meeting in June, 
only about three weeks after the Supreme Court decision, the South- 
ern Baptist Convention approved a recommendation from its Chris- 
tian Life Commission which endorsed the decision and urged the 
churches to help implement it. The crucial statement in that recom- 
mendation was: "That we recognize the fact that this Supreme Court 
decision is in harmony with the constitutional guarantee of equal 
freedom to all citizens, and with the Christian principles of equal 
justice and love for all men." Another paragraph in the statement 

That we urge our people and all Christians to conduct themselves in 
this period of adjustment in the spirit of Christ; that we pray that God 
may guide us in our thinking and our attitudes to the end that we may 
help and not hinder the progress of justice and brotherly love; that we 
may exercise patience and good will in the disucssions that must take 
place, and give a good testimony to the meeting of the Christian faith 
and discipleship. 


On August 1, 1954, Dr. Poteat "suggested that the Board of Deacons 
make a statement relative to the long-standing practice of our church 
in nonsegregated seating of worshippers." It was agreed that the mat- 
ter would be discussed at the next meeting. At that next meeting, on 
September 12, Poteat proposed that "the Board of Deacons of Pullen 
Memorial Baptist Church recommends that the church affirm that in 
worship and service, it continues to welcome without distinction of 
class or race all who share with us our dedication to the Lordship of 
Christ." After some discussion, the deacons voted to approve the 
statement and present it to the church for its consideration. 

Before the matter could be taken to the church it was discussed at 
another meeting of the deacons. At that meeting Poteat stated that 
before the issue was presented to the church "he would like to add the 
word 'fellowship' to the resolution." The deacons decided to postpone 
action on that request until the regular meeting in November. At the 
November 7, 1954, meeting the request was carefully discussed. The 
minutes report: 

After some discussion as to the best way to present the matter to the 
church, Dr. Beck made the motion that the Board of Deacons of Pullen 
Memorial Church submit to the membership of the church through its 
Missionary and Educational agencies the following topic for full con- 
sideration: "That we welcome in worship, service and membership, 
without distinction of race, all who share our dedication to the Lord- 
ship of Christ. 

The motion was carried, and a committee was appointed to make 
plans for presenting the matter to the appropriate groups. At the 
December 5 meeting Turner Williams, chairman of the committee, 
reported the plans which the committee had formulated and stated 
that "the committee was preparing a bibliography of material on the 
subject to be used by those who would lead the discussions." He also 
suggested that the process might be completed in time for the matter 
to come before the board on the first Sunday in March, 1955. Another 
committee was appointed "to work out a procedure for carrying the 
matter to the organizations." Like the race problem itself, Pullen's 
policy on membership would not be settled in 1954. 

When Poteat had returned to Pullen in late 1948, he had come with 
the expectation that the church would employ a Minister of Educa- 
tion. That expectation was not fulfilled until August, 1954, when 
Miss Carolyn Massey assumed that responsibility. Miss Massey was a 
graduate of Meredith College and of Union Theological Seminary in 
New York. Because the church had never had a full-time minister of 
education there was some uncertainty among the deacons about 
exactly what her work should be, and she found it necessary to chart 
her own course. At the deacons' meetings Poteat often spoke with 


considerable appreciation of the help which she gave him. And the 
comments of the deacons were always appreciative. 

One of the most striking characteristics of the life of the church 
during the early 1950's was Poteat's commitment to what might be 
termed the pastoral ministry. For him, visitation — in homes and in 
the hospital — was a major function. At the November 6, 1949, meet- 
ing of the board of deacons, the last meeting to be held that year, he 
had "a few brief words ... in regard to the number of visits made by 
him." At the December 10, 1950, meeting he reported 1100 calls dur- 
ing the year. At the meeting on December 2, 1951, the minutes report: 

He pointed out that this was an exciting period in the life of the 
Church. He stated that he had made 1400 calls or rather he had had 
1400 good times because he likes to visit people. He pointed out that 
this statistic was not the important thing but the opportunity to talk 
with people. 

After 1951 he did not keep records of his visits, but that activity con- 
tinued to be a major part of his work as pastor. 

At the end of 1954 Pullen Memorial Baptist Church was looking to 
the future with optimism and enthusiasm. Its members were happily 
following the leadership of a man who was at once a dynamic and 
challenging preacher and a loving and beloved pastor. They were 
worshipping in a lovely new sanctuary, made even more beautiful by 
a new organ and by the first seven of its magnificient stained glass 
windows. With the help of a new minister of education, they were 
carrying on a stimulating program of religious education in reno- 
vated quarters. They were sharing in the mission of the church in the 
world both in ways that characterized most Baptist churches and in 
ways that were unique to Pullen. They were examining their mem- 
bership policies with an eye to a greater openness to Christians from 
other denominations. And they were responding to the challenge of a 
changing pattern of race relations by considering whether Pullen 
Memorial Baptist Church should declare itself ready to welcome into 
its fellowship "without distinction of race, all who share our dedica- 
tion to the Lordship of Christ." 


Chapter 7 

A Prophetic Church 

In An Era of Revolution 


Not just in the United States, but throughput the world, the years 
1955 to 1972 were a revolutionary era. There was a political unrest all 
over the world. Long-time leaders were ousted from their positions of 
power: Churchill, Peron, Khruschev. Others died natural deaths: 
Nehru, Ho Chi Minh, Nasser. Terrorist activities troubled many na- 
tions: Cyprus, Algeria, Northern Ireland. Rebellions broke out in 
Hungary, Poland, and Czechoslovakia. A four-year civil war in Cuba 
brought Castro to power. Four African countries became independent 
nations. A six-day war gave Israel control of territory that had 
belonged to Egypt and to Jordan. A wall was built to divide Berlin, 
and a political rift developed between Communist China and the 
Soviet Union. The United States became embroiled in action in Viet- 
nam that began as "advising" and became a major war. 

For Americans the period opened with a noble quest for peace. In 
1955 the United States participated in the Summit Conference at Gen- 
eva. While that was going on the U.S. occupation of Germany was 
ended and Dwight D. Eisenhower, the military man become Presi- 
dent, was working to establish peaceful relations between the nations. 

Meanwhile, both in the East and in the West, nuclear research con- 
tinued, deadlier new missiles were constructed, and more sophisti- 
cated planes and submarines were built. Time after time the nation 
was on the verge of war. An American U-2 plane was shot down over 


Russia in 1960. In 1961 the United States ended diplomatic relation- 
ships with Cuba. In that same year the ill-fated anti-Castro invasion 
of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs was crushed. War very nearly broke out in 
1962 over the Russian missiles based in Cuba. 

In the mid-1960's the United States was at war in Vietnam. The 
conflict had begun in 1957, with Viet Cong guerrilla and terrorist 
activity against the government of South Vietnam. The Viet Cong 
leadership had been trained in North Vietnam, and before long they 
were receiving aid not only from North Vietnam but also from the 
Soviet Union and China. The government forces of South Vietnam 
were receiving military assistance and economic aid from the United 
States, and almost from the beginning American military advisers 
were there. In 1965 the first American combat units entered the coun- 
try, and by 1967 nearly half a million men from the United States 
were there. It was a war such as America had never fought before. War 
was never officially declared. It was a civil war, so that lines could not 
be fixed. It was not always possible for the troops to know who was 
friend and who was enemy. It was nothing like conventional warfare. 

The participation of the United States in the war became one of the 
most divisive issues the country had ever known. There were sharp 
differences on who was responsible for America's becoming involved, 
on whether American forces should remain there, on what tactics 
should be used, on how to get out. In 1968 talks were begun between 
the United States and North Vietnam in an effort to bring about a 
settlement. Troop withdrawals started shortly thereafter, but the last 
United States ground troops would not leave until 1972. 

This period was also one of internal strife for the United States. 
The Supreme Court Decision of May 17, 1954, outlawing segregation 
in public schools, was followed by a general movement to bring about 
broad social changes. After his leadership of the Montgomery bus 
boycott in late 1956, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., became both the 
spokesman for black protest and the leader of black activism in the 
form of nonviolent resistance. As the mass protest movement 
mounted, the NAACP pressed its claims in the courts by challenging 
the legal status of a wide variety of discriminatory laws. At the same 
time Civil Rights legislation was being passed by Congress. Federal 
agencies were bringing pressure upon Southern states to guarantee 
equal treatment for all citizens. Violence broke out: Little Rock, Bir- 
mingham, Oxford, Harlem, Newark, Detroit, Los Angeles. There was 
a resurgence of Klan activity, and the appearance of activity by the 
Black Muslims and the organization of the Black Panthers. Three 
assassinations shocked not only the nation but the entire world: John 
F. Kennedy in 1963; Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1968; and Robert F. 
Kennedy in 1968. Mob violence was met by police force, some of it 
disciplined and some of it irrational. 


In this era of change there was in the United States significant evi- 
dence of the desire for some kind of Christian unity. A number of 
denominational mergers took place, one of which brought together 
groups with different theological tradition and different ecclesiology. 
Under the leadership of Eugene Carson Blake, a number of churches 
entered into the Consultation on Church Union, and several others 
not officially involved in the Consultation sent official observers to 
the talks. The twenty-first ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic 
Church, popularly identified as "Vatican II," met from 1962 to 1965, 
and one result of that council was a greater spirit of openness to Pro- 
testant Christian groups. 

The post-war revival movement crested in the late 1950's. Through- 
out the rest of this period it continued to be a factor in the religious 
scene, but its importance was decreasing. Theological ferment gave 
rise to new emphases and new schools of thought: "the theology of 
the secular," the "death of God" theology, "black theology," "libera- 
tion theology," "feminist theology." At the same time there was a 
resurgence of conservative evangelicalism, particularly evident in the 
neo-Pentecostalism and the growth of para-church religious groups 
such as the Full Gospel Businessmen's Fellowship. Many denomina- 
tions found themselves unsure of what to do about the charismatic 

By the end of the 1960's most churches were having trouble holding 
the loyalty of their people. Some people decided that what the church 
was saying and doing was irrelevant to what was happening in the 
world, and found greater challenge in social movements. Others felt 
that the church was no longer satisfying their need for a personal 
spiritual experience and a personal security. The older methods of 
evangelism were no longer working, at least not to the extent that 
they had been, and the church had no new method to replace them. A 
decline of involvement in traditional religion set in, therefore. The 
rate of growth of church membership slowed in every major denomi- 
nation, and for many of them by the end of the 1960's there was actu- 
ally a decline. 

For Raleigh this revolutionary era was, for the most part, one of 
progress and hope. The city was growing and the future seemed 
bright. The creation of the Research Triangle Park, plans for which 
were announced by Governor Luther Hodges in 1958, did more than 
any other single factor to change the city. Beginning with Chem- 
strand in 1959, new industries and new research facilities moved into 
the area with such speed that the population increased by nearly a 
third in the decade between 1960 and 1970. Not all of that growth, of 
course, was the result of new industry, but a great deal of it was. The 
people who came with the new industries were, for the most part, 


highly skilled and highly educated people. They came from all parts 
of the country, and Raleigh became more cosmopolitan, more mixed 
religiously, and more of a cultural center. Even though as yet it could 
hardly be ranked as a big city, it lost both the advantages and the 
disadvantages of the small town. The new situation created a chal- 
lenge for the churches, and the churches had not fully learned how to 
meet the challenge. 

To what extent the blacks of Raleigh saw the era as one of "pro- 
gress and hope" is an open question. Before the 1960's there was little 
open conflict between the blacks and whites of Raleigh; whether that 
means that relations were good is another question. As in other places 
in the South, the 1954 decision of the Supreme Court was met with 
efforts by the majority of whites to find some way to avoid imple- 
menting the desegregation order. In the late 1950's and early 1960's 
black activist groups, such as the Raleigh Citizens Association and the 
local chapter of the NAACP, tried to increase black involvement in 
the political process and to upgrade employment opportunities for 
blacks. Martin Luther King was almost universally admired by blacks, 
his objectives seen as proper, and his methods approved. It could 
hardly be said that blacks were satisfied with things as they were and 
that they thought that there was real hope for them in the new 
prosperity of Raleigh. 

When the sit-in movement started in Greensboro, black students in 
Raleigh quickly joined, targeting the S & W Cafeteria, the Sir Walter, 
the Ambassador Theater, Gino's Restaurant, and the Statehouse din- 
ing room. An outbreak of violence was feared, and a number of arrests 
were made. There were marches and demonstrations. Black leaders 
and white made great efforts to resolve the problems by negotiation. 
In the black community and in the white, the situation was explosive. 
But violence did not flare up; the city began to move toward integra- 
tion of public facilities; and the business community did the same. 
Within a year, nearly all downtown businesses were serving people 
without regard to race. In all fairness, it must be admitted that in 
many instances integration was only a token affair. That certainly 
was the case with the schools. Yet it was progress, and it had been 
accomplished without the violence that both blacks and whites knew 
would be disastrous. 

What happened in the churches is one chapter of the developments 
in the society at large. Beginning in 1964 there were "kneel-ins," in 
which black students, notably from Shaw University, sought admis- 
sion to white churches. The reaction in the white churches varied. In 
most, the students were admitted without difficulty and treated with 
courtesy, if not warmly welcomed. They were turned away from some, 


however. Many white churches held discussions on what to do if 
blacks did put in their appearance, and about what to do if blacks 
should ask for membership. It was that latter issue to which McNeill 
Poteat had asked Pullen Memorial Baptist Church to address itself in 
1954, ten years before the sit-ins. 

At every meeting of the Board of Deacons between January and 
June, 1955, attention was given to the question of whether the church 
should be asked to adopt a policy of accepting blacks into its member- 
ship. The Board devised a plan for having the issue discussed in the 
missionary and educational agencies of the church. They prepared an 
"Outline for Discussion" for the use of the carefully-selected discus- 
sion leaders, and they provided literature which the leaders could use 
to prepare themselves for the discussion. They requested from each 
group — each Sunday school class, each circle of the W.M.S., each 
Training Union department — a "brief report summarizing pertinent 
ideas and general attitude." They also asked that a formal vote not be 
taken because they believed that any voting should be done by the 
church in conference. 

As carefully as the plan had been worked out, there were problems 
of implementation. The committee reported to the deacons on June 5, 

There was some objection by those who did not want to go on record, 
even anonymously; so the Board of Deacons passed the motion that no 
group was under obligation to submit a formal statement. After this 
motion was made public, the general reaction was that the discussion 
had been dropped and that no report was desired. As a consequence of 
the misunderstanding, only four reports were received, two from college 
B.T.U. classes and two from circles of the W.M.U. In addition, a poll 
made by the Poteat Bible Class was made available to the committee. . . . 
Our summary is based on these reports and on conversations with 
members and leaders of various groups which did not submit written 

The committee decided that the issue should not be taken to the 
church for action. They said: 

We believe that if the matter of membership for Negroes could be 
considered on ethical grounds alone, the majority of the members 
would vote for the resolution. They will not, on the other hand, favor 
the resolution in the face of the extent of the apparent opposition in the 
church. Almost all opinions, which were expressed in writing or ver- 
bally, were to the effect that the resolution should not be submitted to a 
vote until some time in the future, with the hope that the membership 
will be better prepared for this step. 

The minutes note that "After a brief discussion, a motion was made, 
seconded, and passed without a dissenting vote that the report be 
accepted and that the committee continue a study of the matter." 


There is no indication that the study was continued, however. In the 
months that followed several members wrote letters indicating their 
belief that the church should open its membership to Negroes. In the 
deacons' meeting on December 4, 1955, "Gordon Poole raised the 
question as to what racial pattern the church would follow with refer- 
ence for example, a colored person presented himself for membership. 
The matter was discussed but no decision was reached." 

Miss Carolyn Massey, Minister of Education, resigned at the end of 
June, 1955. The church lost no time in finding a replacement, and 
William (Bill) M. Everhart began his work on August 1, 1955. Ever- 
hart was a graduate of Wake Forest College and of Crozier Theologi- 
cal Seminary. He had taught for a year and a half in the public 
schools, and had been interim pastor of a church near Chester, Penn- 
sylvania, while he was a student at Crozier. Poteat had great confi- 
dence in him and wanted the church to "make full use of Mr. Ever- 
hart's talents and many capabilities." (Deacons Minutes, 12/4/55) 

Bill Everhart 
Minister of Education 1955-1957 

Just before Christmas, 1955, McNeill Poteat died. His death was not 
totally unexpected, for he had been in poor health when he came to 
the church. He had carried a heavy schedule of activities at the church 
and in the wider community. His last address to a college community 
had been the baccalaureate address at Wingate College on May 29. His 
last article to be published before his death, appearing in the Biblical 
Recorder for June 25, had dealt with "Separation of Church and 


State." During the fall of 1955 he had had some difficulty, having to 
miss some services, and the deacons were quite solicitous of his 
health. At the instruction of the Board of Deacons, the secretary, on 
October 9, wrote to Poteat expressing "gratitude for your continuing 
improvement." The letter stated, "We have missed you greatly but are 
anxious that you curtail your church activities as long as the doctors 
recommend." The deacons even suggested that he have assistance in 
conducting the morning services, and that he not speak to the 
members of the congregation at the close of services. At their De- 
cember 4 meeting the Board heard their chairman report on a confer- 
ence with Poteat: 

The pastor was insistent that the church make full use of Mr. Ever- 
hart's talents and many capabilities. The chairman stated Dr. Poteat 
was much in favor of the church having an assistant to the pastor. In 
the event he, Dr. Poteat, had to retire from the active ministry of the 
church, there would be immediately available a minister to carry on the 
pastoral duties. The matter was discussed but no decision was reached. 

Dr. Poteat died on December 16, 1955. The next day the Raleigh 
News and Observer stated: 

Dr. Edwin McNeill Poteat, 63, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist 
Church and one of the South's best-known clergymen, died unexpect- 
edly last night at 9:15 o'clock from a coronary occlusion. 

Dr. Poteat had just arrived at Pullen Church to perform a marriage 
ceremony when he was stricken. He was rushed to Rex Hospital by 

The article then reviewed Poteat's career, stressing the wide variety of 
positions which he had held. Then it gave additional information 
with, it must be recognized, a bit of editorializing: 

Dr. Poteat's influence spread beyond the confines of his church. Dur- 
ing his first term at Pullen Memorial he was appointed by Governor 
O. Max Gardner to the State Board of Charities and Public Welfare. 
Governor J.C.B. Ehringhaus appointed him to the Commission of Five 
to study the State hospitals with a view to their improvement. 

He associated himself with many progressive political and social 
movements. For some of these actions, he received criticism as well as 
praise. A leader in the fight to maintain the separation of the church 
and state, he often was roundly criticized by groups which he thought 
were encroaching on that constitutional provision. 

Dr. Poteat's personality and wide interests resulted in a heavy speak- 
ing schedule. His talks were not confined to religious subjects. He was 
asked to speak on literature, music, science and other subjects, and he 
was able to fill the bill. 

The American Association for the Advancement of Science honored 
him in 1946 by inviting him to address its convention. It was the first 
time a clergyman had ever been asked to talk to that group. 

His speeches were delivered with the skill of an actor and in the lan- 
guage of an accomplished writer. They were characterized by a change 
of pace that ranged from philosophy to pathos and wit. 


Before, during and after college he was interested in athletics both as 
a participant and as a spectator. While serving in China he was the star 
pitcher on the Ail-American baseball team. He recalled in later years 
that one of his greatest thrills was in coming from behind to defeat 
Walter Lippmann, the political writer, in a hotly-contested tennis 
match. He even served as a trainer in 1916 for a challenger for the 
world's wrestling championship. . . . 

Dr. Poteat's knowledge of music was extensive. The possessor of a 
fine tenor voice, he was also an accomplished organist and he wrote 
both the words and music for several hymns. . . . 

His literary output was marked by the same variety that characterized 
his speeches and his music. He had articles, stories and poems pub- 
lished in such well-known magazines as Harper's the Saturday Review 
of Literature, the Christian Century and others. 

Within his church, he served on many important commissions and 
committees. Of particular interest to him was the application of Chris- 
tianity to the everyday problems of the South and the world. He felt 
that Christianity must be a potent force for the economic and moral 
betterment of the common man if it were to serve to its fullest and to 
spread its influence. 

An editorial in the Raleigh News and Observer on Monday, 
December 19, captured something of the spirit of Poteat: 

Death came as no stranger to Edwin McNeill Poteat. But it will be 
hard for those who knew him in Raleigh in the last years of his life to 
reconcile his richly shared vitality with his death when he was barely 
63. He seemed far too young to die. He had so very much more to give. 
Even now, in the face of the fact that he is dead, it is hard to associate 
with death the one who in his goodness and his wit, his courage and his 
charm was as gay a saint as has ever walked our streets. 

It may still be that the reason that we loved him so much, without 
knowing it till now, was that he debonairely served both his Lord and 
his fellows while he knew always that Death walked at his side. . . . The 
frailty of his health was, of course, realized by his friends. But he made 
his church here such a real corner of the kingdom — he carried still his 
convictions and his faith with such compelling voice to every part of 
this country — that he seemed almost the embodiment of the strength of 
the spirit. 

He never departed from stern, simple Baptist doctrine but he knew 
that the bones of faith can be dressed in beauty. He required no sanc- 
timony and as a man who could write great sermons and important 
books he never feared any damage to his dignity when he wrote comic 
verse, too. There was never any lapse in his willingness to fight, how- 
ever, for such things as the separation of church and state and the one- 
ness of God's concern for all men. About such things he was always a 
very serious man, but no seriousness ever hardened his heart, stilled his 
laughter or dulled his wit. There was gaiety in his heart to the moment 
it stopped beating. 


No man ever retired from a great national career to greater service. 
And if in these last years when Raleigh had been blessed with his pres- 
ence he walked close to death he also walked close to people who 
needed his courage, his faith, his kindness and his humor, too. His 
death seemed almost designed in poetry for the close of such a life. He 
was on a gay errand. He was on his way to such a joyous occasion as a 
wedding and he stopped as he went to pick up a Christmas wreath. He 
had already written a Christmas sermon with the sound of Christmas 
bells in it. The wedding awaited him. The wreath was beside him. And 
death met him as he stopped at the door of his church. The meeting 
was not unexpected. In many ways they were old friends. 

Within days after Poteat's death the church established a special 
fund to be used to honor him. In conference on May 20, 1956, the 
congregation voted to use the fund to complete the chapel as a memo- 
rial. Work was begun in December, with architect Turner Williams 
as consultant. Contributions came in such a rate that the chapel and 
its furnishings had been paid for when the work was completed. The 
dedication service was held on Sunday, February 17, 1956, with Dean 
Oren H. Baker of Colgate Rochester Divinity School as the speaker. 
Other participants were McNeill Poteat's son, William H. Poteat, 
professor of philosophy at the University of North Carolina; William 
R. Strassner, president of Shaw University; Carlyle Campbell, presi- 
dent of Meredith College; and W. W. Finlator, pastor of Pullen Mem- 
orial Church. The words of the plaque placed at the entrance to the 
chapel, taken from Poteat's own poetry, capture the spirit of the per- 
son to whom the chapel was dedicated: 

Come In 
with love for God and man. ..nor fear 
to wait as stranger in this quiet place... 

for God himself 
will presently appear and smile a welcome 

from a friendly face 
and offer you, with others waiting here 

the Bread of Fellowship... 

the Cup of Grace. 

Within days after Poteat's death an eleven-member pulpit commit- 
tee was appointed, with John A. Yarbrough, chairman of the De- 
partment of Biology at Meredith College, as chairman. As might be 
expected, the committee sought suggestions from the church about 
the kind of person who should be called, and it received nominations 
from many people both in the church and outside of it. On that basis 
they prepared the following document entitled "A Statement of Prin- 
ciples and Goals," which they used as a guide in their search and 
copies of which were given to the persons with whom they discussed 
the possibility of their coming to Pullen: 


These statements do not necessarily represent official church action. 
They are approved, however, by the present pulpit committee of ten 
individuals and reflect an earnest effort to capture the underlying quali- 
ties of our church and to state the most important goals for our future 

1. A free pulpit. As in the past, we want our pastor to be free to 
interpret the Christian message for ourselves and the world as he con- 
ceives it. 

2. A dignified service. Our fellowship has responded very favorably 
to an order of service that emphasizes quiet worship, participation by 
the worshippers, and a balanced use of liturgy consistent with our faith 
as Baptists. We have made considerable progress in developing our 
music for the worship services and are anxious to keep this as an impor- 
tant element in such services. 

3. A challenging message. In keeping with statement #1 above, our 
fellowship will almost demand sermons which are thoughtfully 
planned and which are distinctly related to the current problems facing 
Christian bodies over the world today. While we wish to remain Baptist 
in the truest sense and tradition we also wish to raise our voice in sup- 
port of the church in a wider sense, the church universal. 

4. An organized and participating membership. It is at this point 
that we feel the need of further strengthening. We are not lacking now 
in organizations and in plans for educational activities but we want to 
improve upon the participation in these existing programs. Changes in 
this program and its extension into new areas may be needed. We par- 
ticularly feel the need of well-planned activities for our own children 
and the young adults of our membership. 

5. Our service to college students. Our strategic location provides a 
fine opportunity for ministering to State College and Meredith College 
students and to pupils at the State School for the Blind. In this service 
we recognize a need for improvement. Our College Sunday School and 
B.T.U. organizations should be strengthened. Yet we want this work to 
be a phase of our larger church ministration, not our single or even our 
primary goal. 

6. Church size and growth. We do not anticipate our growth into a 
large city church. Such a goal is not possible in our existing plant, nor 
is it consistent with our wish to offer a distinctive type of fellowship in 
the community. Our membership could and should probably expand to 
about 900 or 1,000, but probably not larger. On the other hand, we feel 
that this church under challenging leadership can project its voice and 
influence throughout our state and even the nation. 

7. Basic church mission. We have not mentioned in these statements 
those things which characterize any true missionary Baptist church, 
e.g., testimony of the gospel message in the community, enlistment of 
new people into the church and its organizations, and interest in mis- 
sions at home and abroad. We hope that you may correctly assume that 
these are abiding goals in our church. 

8. Summary. In summary we would say that it is the hope of those of 
us now working in Pullen Church that this fellowship continue in its 
tradition of offering a distinctive emphasis in church life along the 


lines indicated above. We wish to remain loyal to our Baptistic relation- 
ships, to support its state and Southwide programs and cooperate in its 
missionary enterprises. Yet we desire to bear our own testimony in our 
own way in this community and to avoid an unthinking following of a 
mass program. We will always need a minister of such stature that we 
cannot afford to pay him what he is actually worth to the cause. This 
challenge which is ours at Pullen must also be his who will serve us as 

As is usual with pulpit committees, this one gave out no informa- 
tion about the persons whom they were considering. And as is usual, 
there was some concern in the church about the lack of information. 
When that was voiced in the deacons' meeting, Yarbrough explained 
"that no information of any value to members could be given at this 
time." (Deacons, 6/3/56) 

In July, 1956, the committee recommended William Wallace Finla- 
tor, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Elizabeth City, and on Sun- 
day, July 8, the church unanimously voted to call him. Finlator was 
born in Louisburg, but his family had moved to Raleigh when he was 
a boy. He had grown up in the Tabernacle Baptist Church, and had 
been educated in the public schools of Raleigh. He was a graduate of 
Wake Forest College and of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. 
He had served a field of three churches — Pittsboro, Liberty, and 
Bonlee— from 1937 until 1941. In 1941 he went to Weldon, where he 
remained until he was called to First Baptist in Elizabeth City in 1946. 
The issue of the Biblical Recorder which reported the celebration of 
Finlator's tenth anniversary at Elizabeth City also carried an an- 
nouncement of his call to Pullen. (7/14/56) 

Finlator was well-known, at least in Baptist circles, when Pullen 
called him. For twenty years before he came to Raleigh he had con- 
tributed a large number of articles to the Biblical Recorder, many of 
which dealt with issues that were of life-long concern to him. His first 
article in the Recorder, published on October 4, 1939, was entitled 
"Beatitudes and Battlefields." Two articles published in 1940 were 
entitled "The Importance of Knowing How to Hate" and "Safeguard- 
ing our Baptist Democracy." In 1940, 1941, and 1942 he was the 
author of a weekly series of articles, some whimsical and some satiric, 
published over the pseudonym "Festus Erastus." During World War 
II, while he was pastor in Weldon, he had several articles on the issue 
of war. In that same period he wrote on race, on religion and the 
schools, and on denominational concerns. During his ten years at Eliz- 
abeth City he continued to send in articles: "The 'Pink' People Called 
Methodists," "This I Do Believe," "The Book Nobody Plugs," "How 
to Keep the Smear from Sticking." "Naked and Ye Clothed Me," and 
so on. He wrote in support of an anti-gambling bill, in opposition to 


W. W. Finlator 
Minister 1956-1982 


universal military training, against censorship, against the removal of 
Nels Ferre from the State B.S.U. program. For the Council on Chris- 
tian Higher Education he wrote a series of articles on "Town and 
Gown." And to top that all off, he dashed off a number of "Letters to 
the Editor." 

Finlator was a denominationally-minded minister. Many of his let- 
ters and articles show that while he was sometimes critical of the 
denomination, he was critical from within. Respected as a thoughtful 
and forthright individual, he was used not only by the Council on 
Christian Higher Education but also on the Committee on Social Serv- 
ice and Civic Righteousness. Occasionally he was invited by other 
ministers to preach in revivals and was asked to speak in colleges 
across the state. At the time that Pullen called him he was a member 
of the Council on Christian Higher Education, a trustee of Meredith 
College, and a member of the General Board of the Baptist State 

When Finlator began his work at Pullen on August 15, 1956, the 
church had a major item of unfinished business on its agenda. That 
was the adoption of a constitution. A committee of deacons to work 
on a proposed constitution had been appointed on February 7, 1954. 
The work moved slowly, and from time to time the deacons asked 
about progress. On October 10, 1957, copies of a proposed constitu- 
tion were mailed to the congregation. Members were invited to 
respond in writing with suggestions and criticisms, and many did so. 
All responses were carefully considered, and that process took addi- 
tional months. The church took final action to adopt the constitution 
on April 20, 1958. 

Although the committee had studied carefully both the model 
"Constitution and By-Laws" circulated by the Baptist State Conven- 
tion and constitutions which had been adopted by a number of local 
churches, the new constitution was distinctly Pullen's. It made it clear 
that Pullen Memorial Church stood firmly in the Baptist tradition 
and fellowship. At the same time it enunciated three distinctive 
Pullen emphases and practices. The opening paragraph of "Article IV 
— Membership" states two of them: 

Any person who shares with us a common dedication to the Lord- 
ship of Jesus Christ and who is committed to those percepts set forth in 
the two preceding articles is eligible for membership. Such person shall 
be a member of this church when received either (1) by baptism upon 
profession of faith; or (2) by a letter of transfer from another church in 
the evangelical tradition; or (3) by a statement of former church mem- 
bership acceptable to the church in conference. 

The first of these distinctive emphases is the fact that the church is 
open to people of all races. During Poteat's last year the church had 
debated the question of whether to admit blacks into membership, but 


had failed to decide the issue. In approving the first sentence of this 
article, the church decided that race would not be a factor in the 
acceptance of new members. The second distinctive emphasis is that 
people from other denominations may be accepted into full member- 
ship in Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. For many years the church 
had had as associate members persons who came from other denomi- 
nations and who had not been baptized by immersion. Item (2) in this 
paragraph determines that anyone who comes from "another church 
in the evangelical tradition" may be accepted into full membership. 
The third distinctive emphasis was specified in Article VI on "Affilia- 
tions." Affirming Pullen's relationship to denominational organiza- 
tions, it added that "This church may also be associated with more 
inclusive organizations such as the North Carolina Council of 
Churches, the National Council of Churches of Christ in America, 
and the World Council of Churches." 

The Constitution was revised slightly in 1965. The most significant 
change at that time was the addition of two standing committees. The 
first was the Area Ministry Committee, whose responsibility is to keep 
the church acquainted with its members and prospective members. 
The other was the Information Committee, responsible for the annual 
publication of a church direcory and for other public information 
activities on behalf of the church. 

The Constitution was revised again in 1971, and several significant 
changes were made. The first provided for the acceptance of new 
members "by letter of transfer from another Christian Communion" 
rather than "from another church in the evangelical tradition" (Arti- 
cle IV, Membership). The second added "the American Baptist Con- 
vention" to the list of affiliations (Article VI). The third added the 
requirement that two weeks notice be given in writing for a church 
conference in which major matters are to be acted upon (Article IX). 
The fourth provided for the possibility of the church having an Asso- 
ciate Minister (Article I). 

In the 1971 revision of the Constitution two major standing com- 
mittees were established: the Committee on Community Concerns and 
the Worship Committee (Article IV, Sections E and Q). The earliest 
call for a "Community Concerns Committee" may have been the 
undated document found in the files of the Committee which calls for 
the creation of a "Committee on Social Concern." The idea first came 
before the deacons on September 13, 1964. According to the minutes: 

Mr. Highfill raised the possibility of having the Minister appoint a 
special Church Committee to deal in the area of the social concern of 
the community. Mr. Finlator discussed the idea briefly and indicated 
that if the Board favored the idea he would like to have them authorize 
him to appoint such a committee. 


The deacons approved the suggestion and at the next meeting High- 
fill was appointed chairman of a committee "to work with the pastor 
on a statement outlining the area of responsibility of a proposed 
committee to deal in matters of social concern." They presented their 
report on December 6, 1964, and the appointment of a committee was 
approved. It was noted that the by-laws give the minister the author- 
ity to appoint such committees as are deemed wise. Finlator "stated 
that he visualized the committee as a study group which would keep 
the church informed on issues of concern." 

The committee was appointed in January, 1965. On June 6 the 
committee issued a report but there is no indication as to the group to 
which it was addressed. The opening paragraph states that the com- 
mittee "was established to provide the members of Pullen Memorial 
Baptist Church with a forum to reflect their community concerns at 
every level." According to the report, the committee met several times, 
collected information on a wide variety of subjects, heard speakers on 
a number of topics, and wrote letters urging support of various pro- 
grams. The report then spoke briefly to two concerns: President John- 
son's efforts to help students find "meaningful work or training 
opportunities this summer," and the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan 
in North Carolina. It concluded: "Suggestions from members of 
Pullen Memorial of subjects that should be of concern to this Com- 
mittee and how it can serve most effectively will be welcomed." 

In March, 1967, the committee addressed a report to the congrega- 
tion in which it spoke of issues which the members had discussed. In 
July and August, 1968, the committee sponsored at Pullen a "Dia- 
logue on the Urban Problems of Raleigh and their Solution." From 
time to time the committee made statements to the church, and occa- 
sionally made statements to the community at large. At times it com- 
municated with city, county, and state officials on social and political 

For several years the committee functioned in this manner. A signif- 
icant change in their functioning, however, was instituted in 1972. 
The budget which the church adopted that year contained an alloca- 
tion of $5750 for the committee, to be expended for day care pro- 
grams, support for housing, a summer tutorial program, educational 
programs on community problems, the Raleigh drug problem, the 
ecumenical work of the Raleigh Experimental Ministry, and a token 
amount to be paid to the City of Raleigh as an expression of apprecia- 
tion for its services. For the first time the committee was allocated 
funds with which to do some of its work. 

About the same time the Community Concerns Committee took on 
another major project and asked for the church's help. The chairman 
of that committee addressed a letter of the deacons dated November 2, 
1971, in which he stated: 


Some young people (Cookie Hall, Dan Pruitt, etc.) have a dream of a 
coffee house to fill the void of boredom that leads some people to drugs. 
They came to Mel Williams and then to the Community Concerns 
Committee requesting only a place in which to set up shop. . . . We are 
impressed with their enthusiasm, energy, sense of responsibility, and 
goals. We have agreed to serve as the sponsoring committee for them 
and on their behalf make the request that you, the Board of Deacons, 
grant their request for a place in which to set up a coffee house. 

The request was considered at length in the deacons' meeting on 
November 7, 1971. There was an obvious wish to be helpful and at the 
same time a certain wariness because of potential problems. The prac- 
tical concerns of maintenance and of the possibility of the institution 
becoming a problem in the community were debated. Then, with five 
dissenting votes, the deacons approved the request. The coffee house 
was opened almost immediately and operated until the end of the 
school year. 

The other standing committee created by the constitutional revision 
in 1971 was the Worship Committee. As an ad hoc committee it had 
come into being rather spontaneously when a number of people 
expressed a desire to be involved in some non-traditional patterns of 
worship. Even after the committee was given constitutional status it 
maintained that approach. Introducing a Pullen Views (December, 
1974) article on the committee, Suzanne Newton said, "Since its con- 
stitutional beginnings four years ago, the worship committee has 
become Pullen's Committee-of-What's-Happening-Next." According 
to the constitution, the function of the committee is: 

To work continually in evaluating, deepening, and enriching the over- 
all worship life of the church. The committee shall counsel with the 
ministers and the Director of Music regarding worship, and shall work 
in planning special worship experiences such as the 9:00 a.m. summer 
family services, Advent and Lenten services, or 'suggested services' 
which enrich the worship life of the congregation. 

In that same Pullen Views article, Newton said: 

Seeking out the gifts of Pullen's members is one of the committee's 
major responsibilities. In recent years (with the committee's delighted 
affirmation) church members of all ages have composed songs, written 
poetry and litanies, choreographed dances, made banners, and contrib- 
uted various original works of art to enhance the worship experiences 
of the congregation. Beyond that, however, the committee also looks for 
opportunities for people to participate directly in worship services — as 
liturgists, as music makers, or as bearers-of-witness. 

In its planning the worship committee constantly returns to two 
questions: what is worship, and how do we worship. During the com- 
ing year, in the process of exploring these "mysteries," the committee 
hopes to find ways to offer the congregation some instruction in wor- 
ship, perhaps by bringing in knowledgeable people for workshops and 


Finally, the worship committee sees one of its functions as being a 
channel of communication between the ministers and the congregation. 
It can serve as a sounding board — as a body to receive and make use of 
critical feedback that will help all those concerned with worship plan- 
ning to get in touch with the needs of individuals within the congrega- 
tion. Pullen people are invited to speak with worship committee 
members about any matters of worship. 

When Carolyn Massey had resigned as Minister of Education in 
1955 she had recommended that the church establish a Board of Edu- 
cation. Her recommendation was taken seriously, though its consid- 
eration was delayed by the death of Poteat. Early in 1956, however, a 
Board was formed. At the June 3, 1956, meeting of the deacons, 
"Scarborough reported that the Board of Christian Education had 
been organized and two meetings held. . . . The meetings were con- 
cerned with getting acquainted with educational problems of the 
chruch, particularly the need for personnel in several positions." 
There were some problems of functioning, however, and the deacons 
worked with the Board in an effort to determine its proper role. Bill 
Everhart, who had succeeded Massey as Minister of Education, gave 
valuable assistance to the deacons and the Board of Education as they 
were working out the plans. Everhart, however, resigned in Sep- 
tember, 1957, to accept a call to become pastor of the Fremont church. 

In his letter of resignation Everhart spoke with much appreciation 
for the people with whom he had been working and with confidence 
in the future of the church. He observed: "I sincerely believe . . . that 
the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church is entering a period of even 
'greater expectations' than realized in her notable past. In the preach- 
ing and pastoral ministries of William Wallace Finlator one sees what 
I believe to be one of the most mutually beneficial associations 
(Minister-Church) among Baptists in the state." He then made two 
recommendations. First, he recommended that "without delay, an ad 
hoc committee be appointed to study the enrollment trends within the 
church school and the space arrangement and facilities to insure an 
optimum use of space, personnel and facilities in the coming years." 
And second, he said that before employing his successor "It would be 
wise to develop a job description, defining the task and area of 
responsibility and authority for the position." The church did not 
immediately implement either of these recommendations, but several 
years later both ideas came up again. 

On April 13, 1958, while the church was working on its proposed 
Constitution, the deacons appointed an interim Board of Education. 
It was chaired by C. C. Scarborough, Professor of Education at North 
Carolina State. That board presented its first report, quite well organ- 
ized, to the Board of Deacons on September 7, 1958. It was authorized 
to proceed "along the lines of the authority to be conferred by the new 
Constitution upon its adoption." 


In the By-Laws of the Constitution adopted on April 20, 1958, the 
structure and functions of the Board of Education were carefully spec- 
ified. Article I states the duties of the Church Staff. The second staff 
person listed is the "Director of Education," who works "under the 
direction of the Minister and with the Board of Education." The 
statement on the membership of the Board of Education specifies that 
"The Director of Education of the church shall serve as secretary of 
the Board of Education." At the time of the adoption of the Consti- 
tution, the church was without a Director of Education, and con- 
tinued without one until Alton Y. Buzbee began work on March 1, 

Buzbee came to Pullen from a similar position at the First Baptist 
Church of Clarksville, Tennessee, where he had served for two years. 
Prior to that time he had been for two and a half years Minister of 
Education at Waynesboro Baptist Church in Waynesboro, Virginia. 
He was a native of Alabama and had attended Howard College and 
the University of Alabama. He had received his theological training at 
the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. 
It was hoped that his leadership would bring new life to an educa- 
tional program which was generally regarded as lacking in depth and 
vitality. As chairman of the Board of Deacons, Carter Williams wrote 
in his report on the church year 1959-1960: 

Several years ago we embarked on a program that has as its key a thor- 
ough preparation of the teaching personnel plus family cooperation. 
The literature was some of the best available. We are still having diffi- 
culty in really making this program develop its potential. A sufficient 
number of dedicated and capable teachers is a surprisingly constant 
need in a church blessed with such qualified members. Definition of 
responsibility, clean-cut decisions, and smooth functioning of our 
Board of Education is still a desirable goal in providing a coordinated 
program after many long hours of earnest efforts. Employment of our 
Educational Director, capable and devoted though he is, cannot be the 
complete answer to providing in all departments vigorous and inspir- 
ing programs which are the life-blood of our church. 

On August 12, 1961, the deacons were informed that Buzbee had 
resigned to accept a position with a publishing firm. Neither the crea- 
tion of the Board of Education nor the employment of a Director of 
Education had brought the hoped-for revitalization. 

Following Buzbee's resignation the Board of Education began to 
discuss two matters of concern. The first was the general dissatisfac- 
tion with the Sunday school literature, and steps were taken to inves- 
tigate alternatives. The other was the provision of a specific job de- 
scription for the Minister of Education and finding someone to fit 
that description. In light of these concerns, and of others that were no 
less important but were less crucial at the moment, the church 


employed Dr. Denton Coker, of Southeastern Baptist Theological 
Seminary, to serve as a consultant for six months. Coker began his 
work in January, 1962, at a time when the church was giving atten- 
tion to other urgent matters as well. His work gave a new sense of 
direction to the educational program. 

The deacons of Pullen Memorial Church began in 1959 to consider 
affiliation with the American Baptist Convention. W. W. Finlator 
first brought the possibility to the attention of the deacons on 
December 7, 1958, when he asked them to "give the matter some 
thought and consideration." Several months later he reported that he 
had been in touch with the Secretary of the American Baptist Conven- 
tion. Nothing was done for the next two years. But on May 7, 1961, 

Bill Finlator invited the Decaons to participate in a discussion to be led 
by a representative of the American Baptist Convention at Pullen 
Church on Monday evening, May 8. Representatives of the First Baptist 
Church of Raleigh, the Watts Street Baptist Church of Durham, and the 
O. T. Binkley Baptist Church of Chapel Hill will be present. The pos- 
sibility of a closer association between the two Baptist Conventions will 
be explored. 

The purpose of that meeting was not to discuss dual alignment but 
to consider the possibility of "a closer association between the two 
Baptist Conventions." On December 3, 1961, however, Finlator re- 
ported to the deacons on a conversation with a representative of the 
American Baptist Convention in which dual alignment was discussed. 
The minutes on the discussion that followed report: 

A small contribution by Pullen to the American Baptist conventions. 
This might grow as we become active in the ABC. This would enable 
us to belong to the World Council of Churches. This would imply that 
we would leave the Southern Baptist Convention. Meyers [sic] Park 
Baptist Church, Charlotte, has aligned with the ABC. 

Then a motion was passed that "we express our interest, talk among 
our church members and those of other churches. The committee to 
report in two or three months." Curtis Fitzgerald was appointed 
chairman of the committee. There is no record of what the committee 
did, and Fitzgerald was away from his post at North Carolina State 
for the school year 1962-63. 

The matter came up again in the spring of 1964. A letter dated June 
30, 1964, addressed by Mrs. Margaret Scarborough to E. L. Rankin, 
Jr., chairman of the Board of Deacons, refers to a session, apparently 
an informal one, which Rankin could not attend. The letter states: 

The concensus of opinion of this group — W. W. Finlator, Mrs. Wood- 
bury, David Pittman, Leroy Richardson and myself — was that we 
would like to see a committee appointed to study the possibilities — 
advantages and disadvantages — of a dual alignment of our church with 
American Baptist as well as Southern Baptist Convention. 


On July 5, 1964, Mrs. Scarborough presented the following request to 
the deacons: 

I ask the board to consider recommending the chairman appoint a 
group of interested and informed members to study the possibility of 
associating our church with the American Baptist Convention. This 
would make a dual alignment with both the Southern Baptist Conven- 
tion and the American Baptist Convention. This group would bring us 
facts to consider before making recommendations to the membership. 

After a wide-ranging discussion, the deacons authorized the appoint- 
ment of the committee. 

The committee began work immediately. On September 13, 1964, it 
reported informally that it had met three times to discuss the matter, 
that it was not yet ready to make any recommendation, but that it was 
leaning toward a strong recommendation of dual alignment. On 
November 1, 1964, the committee presented in writing a lengthy 
report, concluding with the recommendation of four steps: 

(1) To apprise the church of the interest in the possibility of affiliation 
with the American Baptist Convention; 

(2) To provide for the church ample opportunity for the study and dis- 
cussion of such affiliation; 

(3) To invite an official representative of the American Baptist Conven- 
tion to meet with appropriate officials and Boards of this church 
and with the congregation; 

(4) To bring before the church in business session a recommendation 
on the question of the affiliation of Pullen Memorial Baptist 
Church with the American Baptist Convention and to provide the 
opportunity for the congregation to vote on the recommendation. 

There was considerable discussion, with significant difference of 
opinion. It was finally agreed, without motion, that the committee be 
asked to continue its work and make plans to present the matter to the 

Apparently the committee did no further work. Not until a year 
later did anyone ask in the deacons' meeting about what was happen- 
ing. Two months after that the chairman submitted his resignation 
"for compelling personal reasons." He affirmed a continuing interest 
in the proposal, and he indicated that he believed that there was a 
strong interest in the church. Notice of his resignation did not make 
its way into the deacons' meetings, however. On May 1, 1966, one of 
the deacons asked about the status of the committee, and at that time 
it was announced that the chairman had resigned and a new chair- 
man should be named. On July 3, 1966, the chairman of the Board of 
Deacons announced "that he was appointing Bernard Cochran new 
Chairman of the Committee on Wider Affiliation and is asking him 
to proceed to bring this matter before the congregation." 

Cochran made his first report as chairman of the committee on 
January 1, 1967. He announced that the committee had planned for 


discussion at a "family night supper" under the leadership of Dr. Sam 
Hill, of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a 
member of the Binkley Memorial Church. Cochran stated that "The 
Committee will make some recommendations to the church in March, 
1967." The deacons received the report on April 2, 1967. The minutes 

After full discussion it was moved and seconded that the Board of Dea- 
cons accept the unanimous recommendation of the Committee on 
Wider Affiliations which is as follows: 'The Committee on Wider Affi- 
liation, by unanimous vote, recommends the extension of the affilia- 
tion of Pullen Memorial Church to include membership in the Ameri- 
can Baptist Convention by applying for membership.' The Board of 
Deacons voted unanimously in favor of the motion. 

At a church conference held on Sunday, April 30, 1967, the church 
voted to affiliate with the American Baptist Convention. The deacons 
elected Carlton Blalock as "our official representative at the American 
Baptist Convention's annual session on May 17, 1967." 

Another type of wider affiliation was considered by the deacons in 
1971 and 1972. On August 1, 1971, Finlator informed the deacons that 
one of the Pullen members had asked "that Pullen align itself with 
the Wake Baptist Association (Black) as well as with the Raleigh Bap- 
tist Association (White)." Finlator had discussed the matter with 
O. L. Sherrill, executive secretary of the black Baptist State Conven- 
tion, and with Charles Ward, pastor of the black First Baptist Church, 
and "they expressed an interest." It was agreed to send visitors to the 
meeting of the Wake Association. Ten members, including the pastor 
and Bernard H. Cochran, who had been chairman of the Committee 
on Wider Affiliation, attended. The matter was discussed in depth on 
September 12, after the meeting of the Association, and a committee 
to consider the matter was appointed. Hal Littleton served as chair- 
man. The committee reported "progress" on November 7, but after 
that the matter was dropped. There is no further reference to it in the 
minutes of the deacons. 

One matter which demanded a great deal of attention from the dea- 
cons during most of 1960 was finally resolved by a decision to make 
no change. On May 6, following the suggestion of one of the deacons, 
a committee was appointed "to study the mechanics of accepting 
church members during the morning worship service." The commit- 
tee began work immediately, but on June 5 reported that they had "as 
yet been unable to agree on an alternate plan for receiving members 
into the church." They were instructed to continue their work. In 
September they "had no final report," and the deacons voted to con- 
tinue the committee. On February 5, 1961, they reported that they still 
had reached no conclusion and recommended that the committee 


membership be doubled. Instead, the deacons voted to discontinue 
consideration of the matter. 

Another activity to which the deacons gave a great deal of attention 
in 1962 was the sponsorship of a refugee family from Cuba. The 
action was sparked by Mrs. Bea Anderson, who brought to the dea- 
cons a request from the American Baptist Missionary Board for help 
for a Dutch Indonesian family. The deacons agreed to appoint a 
committee to explore the possibility. There is no hint of what was 
done about that family, but at the meeting on May 7, Mrs. Anderson 
reported a request from the same Board for help for a Cuban refugee 
family. The deacons passed a motion that "The Board of Deacons 
endorse the specific family, that the W.M.S. appoint specific circles to 
furnish specific items and that the general congregation 'pound' the 
family. Note: money can and may be as acceptable as food in the 
'pounding.'" On October 9 the deacons heard from the committee 
that the family still needed help in paying rent, and voted to give help 
through October. The chairman of the Board of Deacons, in his 
report submitted on September 30, 1962, stated that "Our church 
sponsored a Cuban refugee family by arranging for a position through 
one of its members, making certain financial arrangements for them 
and through food, clothing and furniture, in getting them settled in 
our community." On November 4 the deacons endorsed an item in 
the budget for the new year to provide assistance for six months, and 
in addition passed a motion "That there be appointed a 3 member 
special church committee to consult with, assist, supervise and deter- 
mine for Cuban family and report, to work closely with Mrs. Ander- 
son." The family continued to need — and to receive — help through 
1963, although there was the constant effort to get them to become 
entirely self-sufficient. Apparently that objective was achieved by the 
end of the year, for there are no further references to the situation. 

In the fall of 1960 the Board of Education began to give serious 
attention to a critical evaluation of the educational program of the 
church. The Sunday school curriculum which was in use required for 
its success a high degree of family involvement and parental support. 
It had not had the necessary cooperation and the board was concerned 
about dealing with the problem. In their meeting on October 16, 
1960, they decided that "special effort should be made to make every- 
one, particularly parents, fully aware of the Sunday School Curricu- 
lum and necessity of their participation in the program." In addition 
they discussed the need for a careful and objective evaluation of the 
educational program. 

After Alton Buzbee's resignation in August, 1961, the church de- 
cided to examine the educational program carefully before it moved 
toward the employment of a successor. In his report on church activi- 
ties during his year as chairman of the Board of Deacons, C. E. 


Bishop listed what he saw to be the needs of the church in its educa- 
tional activities: 

1. Reappraisal of our educational activities in relation to the goals of 
our program as stated in the purpose of the church. 

2. Better coordination of the total educational programs. 

3. Revitalization of the educational activities for adults. 

4. Closer coordination of the educational programs with the Board of 
Deacons and with the church at large. 

5. Review and redefinition of the responsibilities of the Director of 
Education and the employment of a competent director as soon as is 

In line with Bishop's ideas, and on the recommendation of the 
Board of Education, Dr. Denton Coker, professor of Religious Educa- 
tion at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, 
was employed in January, 1962, to serve for six months as a consult- 
ant. He was given the responsibility of studying the religious educa- 
tion program and making recommendations. He worked closely both 
with the Board of Education. A report entitled "A Study of the Pro- 
gram of Christian Education of the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church 
Containing Suggestions for Improvement" was submitted at the end 
of his six-months study. It was a thorough analysis with recommen- 
dations concerning the objectives of the program, the work of the 
Board of Christian Education, and each department of the Sunday 
school. It represented not merely Coker's thinking but also the ideas 
of the Board of Education. It concluded with a "Summary of Emer- 
gencies that Need to be Met by Fall of 1962": 

I. A Minister of Religious Education. 
II. New quarters for the nursery departments. 

III. New equipment and the redecoration of the Nursery, Junior, 
Junior High, and Senior High departments. 

IV. A leadership committee. 

V. A teacher orientation and training program. 

The church began its implementation of Coker's recommendations 
by employing David Pittman as Minister of Education. Pittman was a 
native of Marion, North Carolina, and a graduate of Furman Univer- 
sity and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. For two years he 
had been pastor of the Saxapahaw Baptist Church, and at the time of 
his call to Pullen he was nearing completion of his work on his doc- 
torate in Christian Education at Hartford Theological Seminary. He 
was also serving as Minister of Education in the First Baptist Church 
of Dearborn, Michigan. All three of his predecessors had had theolog- 
ical training. Pittman, however, was the first person in that position 
to have had a specific interest in and preparation for work in Chris- 
tian education. In conference on September 22, 1962, the church voted 
to call him, and he began his work at the first of the year in 1963. 


David Pittman 
Minister of Education 1963-1969 

Pittman's strength lay in organizing and administering the pro- 
gram, and in enlisting and training workers rather than in trying to 
do the work himself. In a letter dated February 5, 1963, he outlined 
the approach to his work which he intended to take: 

Individual conferences provide an opportunity for persons to discuss 
with me matters that can be dealt with more effectively on a personal 
rather than a group basis. Studying curricular materials, developing 
units of study and individual sessions, planning for parent-teacher 
cooperation, selecting and planning for the use of audio-visual mate- 
rials, and developing suitable educational activities for church school 
groups are some of the ways in which I have found personal confer- 
ences to be helpful. 

Church Education courses designed to meet specific areas of need may 
be offered. These would be on a two, four or eight months basis at times 
convenient to the largest number of interested persons. Basic Leader- 
ship Course in Christian Education, Educational Ministry to Children, 
and The Gospel and Contemporary Social Problems are examples of 
courses that could be offered. 

Workshops of two to four sessions each may be conducted for the pur- 
pose of helping teachers handle the basic teaching skills. 
Apprentice or assistant service may be arranged for persons interested in 
becoming a teacher in the church school. This would be under the 
supervision of a trained teacher and the minister of education. In addi- 
tion to the work on Sunday morning, periodic conferences would be 


Although not all of his ideas were implemented, Pittman did take 
the approach which he described, and he was eminently successful in 
enlisting and training workers. The minutes of the Board of Educa- 
tion are full of reports of successful programs in the church school 
and in other activities such as Youth Retreats, Vacation Bible Schools, 
Adult Programs, and the like. Interestingly enough, Pittman had been 
given no more specific job description than had his predecessors. 

On May 15, 1966, Pittman reported to the Board of Education on 
his comprehensive analysis of the curriculum currently in use in the 
Pullen church school and recommended a change. He noted that in 
1954 Pullen had adopted the Faith and Life Curriculum of the United 
Presbyterian Church, first produced in 1948. He observed that when 
Pullen began using that curriculum "the choice was no doubt a wise 
one especially in view of the fact that the curriculum was perhaps the 
best produced by any Protestant group." He found it "strongly based 
on reformed theology," however, and noted "a definite rigidity in 
terms of dealing with theological content." Furthermore, he found 
that it did not "reflect the free tradition of which Baptists are, at least 
historically, a part." The period of the 1960's, it might be noted, was 
one in which most of the major denominations were revising their 
curricula, and Pittman was acquainted with the developments that 
were taking place. He had introduced the curriculum of the United 
Church into use in the nursery and kindergarten departments in 1962, 
and into the senior high class and one adult class in 1965. The Board 
adopted his four recommendations: 

(1) Use the United Church Curriculum experimentally through grades 
12, and above as groups so desire. 

(2) Let the Board carefully study the book, Educational Mission of the 
Church by Shinn which gives the philosophy behind the curricu- 
lum, and to study the total curriculum. 

(3) Have periodic evaluative sessions with teachers and Board members. 

(4) Decide in the Spring of 1967 about the future use of the curriculum 
for Pullen, recognizing that any effective curriculum must be modi- 
fied and supplemented for individual church use. 

Pittman remained with the church until the spring of 1969, when 
he resigned to accept a position as minister of education for the 
Community Church in New York City. 

In the early 1960's there was constant concern about the inadequacy 
of the physical plant. The ground floor and the first floor of the old 
building had been remodeled in 1954 to provide space for the Sunday 
school program. At that time it was understood that as soon as feasi- 
ble the top floor would be finished. Although the issue came up from 
time to time, there was no concerted drive to keep the project in mind. 

In April, 1960, the church conducted a campaign to raise funds to 
do seven things: (1) pay for the recently-acquired home and lot 


adjoining the church property; (2) pave the parking lot; (3) remodel 
the second floor of the educational building; (4) renovate the vestibule 
and carpet the aisles in the sanctuary; (5) install the remaining stained 
glass windows; (6) air condition the church sanctuary; and (7) reduce 
the debt on the church. It was anticipated that the total cost would be 
$60,000, and it was not expected that the entire amount would be 
raised. Only about $15,000 was pledged. That was not enough to do 
the work on the second floor. It was enough, however, to pay for the 
newly acquired property, to pave the parking lot, and to do some 
necessary repairing of the building. 

At the end of his term as chairman of the Board of Deacons, in 
October, 1970, Carter Williams had said, "Lack of available space is 
now blocking our progress and growth." On August 12, 1961, at the 
suggestion of Bill Finlator, the chairman of the Board of Deacons 
appointed a committee to "study the total Sunday School building 
needs." On January 7, 1962, the committee reported that "the facili- 
ties now in use" are "in dire need of renovation" and the equipment 
"should be discarded." They recommended that the Business Board be 
authorized to borrow up to $10,000 to take care of the emergency. 
That recommendation was approved. At the next meeting, however, 
the deacons had second thoughts and decided that before any attempt 
to borrow was made the church needed to take a good look at its 
financial situation. It was during this period that Denton Coker was 
serving as educational consultant. It seemed the better part of wisdom 
to wait until he had finished his work before undertaking any major 
renovation of the educational facility. 

The problems persisted, however. David Pittman, the Minister of 
Education, was trying to make the church school program more sig- 
nificant, but he was working under the limitations of inadequate 
facilities and of the church's uncertainty as to whether it seriously 
intended to implement the recommendations of the Coker report. The 
situation was further complicated by the fact that the church was not 
meeting its budget. 

At the meeting of the Board of Deacons on November 7, 1965, Wal- 
ter Fuller, chairman, stated that 

during the budget hearings it became evident that a need existed to 
coordinate overall plans for physical plant expansion. He suggested 
that the purpose of such a committee should be to look into long range 
needs of this church and make recommendations for the future devel- 
opment of the physical plant. 

The deacons approved a motion that they recommend to the church 
the appointment of a Long Range Planning Committee, and the 
church approved the recommendation in conference on November 21, 
1965. The members of the committee were to be the chairmen of the 
Board of Deacons, Building and Grounds, Trustees, and Education; 


the Pastor; the Minister of Education; and four members elected by 
the church. George Paschal served as chairman, and the other mem- 
bers were J. J. Brandt, C. E. Bishop, B. F. Bullard, Mary Ruth Crook, 
Arthur Woodbury, R. L. Lovern, J. W. Reid, David Pittman, R. J. 
Volk, W. W. Finlator, John Blackmon, and Mrs. Basil Sherrill. 

The committee was requested to "endeavor to submit a report by 
July 1, 1966." It soon became apparent that much more time would 
be required. They had to make a careful study of the building; they 
had to have complete information on the educational program; and 
they had to think in terms of plans for the future. They submitted to 
the deacons a "progress report" on December 4, 1966. The draft of 
their "final report," dated March 3, 1968, evoked an immediate 
response from the Board of Education. That Board found in the 
report a number of statements that "do not reflect the current philos- 
ophy of the Board of Education" and proposed some changes which 
would "bring the report into harmony with the long range educa- 
tional goals formulated by the Board of Education during the past 
five years." The committee agreed to give further consideration to 
their report. At their meeting on September 18, 1968, although they 
were in complete agreement on what was needed, they could not agree 
on priorities. By a divided vote, six to three, they decided on two 
recommendations to the deacons: 

1. That they investigate the purchase of adjoining property (and pur- 
chase if feasible); and at the same time, proceed with plans to reno- 
vate the existing building, including the annex for Pre-schoolers; 
and make the construction of a new Pre-school (Day Care) addition a 
second priority to come later. 

2. That the Board of Education be consulted in any building or renova- 
tion of the Church's physical plant, now or in the future. 

The committee's report, dated October 7, 1968, was discussed by the 
deacons on January 5, 1969. There had already been considerable 
informal discussion among the church members. The deacons learned 
that the cost of the adjoining property would be approximately 
$60,000, and decided that it was not feasible "at this time to purchase 
this property." Carter Williams had been consulted on the proposed 
renovations, and he estimated that the cost would be approximately 
$120,000. There was considerable question in the congregation as to 
the wisdom of undertaking that major project. After discussion, the 
deacons decided "that the matter of renovations be referred to a com- 
mittee consisting of the chairmen of the business board, board of deac- 
ons, and board of education for recommendations to the Deacons." 

On January 30, 1969, a meeting attended by "certain leaders of our 
church" was held in the home of the chairman of the Board of Deac- 
ons. Presumably those leaders were the ones appointed to the com- 
mittee on January 5. They recommended that the order of priorities 


1. Air conditioning the sanctuary and the chapel with ducts installed 
for future cooling of the space over the chapel. 

2. Renovation of the top floor. 

3. Renovation of the annex building. 

4. Renovation of the ground floor (basement). 

5. Renovation of the main floor. 

The minutes add: 

The group also recommended that a committee be appointed to con- 
sider financing these renovations. After extended discussion by the dea- 
cons, a motion was made that the list of priorities be adopted combin- 
ing numbers one, two and three as number one with numbers four and 
fiv to follow and that a committee be appointed to investigate financing 
and to educate the church membership as to the needs outlined in the 
list of priorities. The motion passed. 

At a church' conference held on Sunday morning, March 9, 1969, 
the congregation voted on recommendations which came from the 
Board of Deacons. In the conference the recommendations were re- 
vised a bit, and were approved as follows (Pullenews, April, 1969): 

First priority (three items included): air conditioning the sanctuary, reno- 
vating the third floor, and renovat- 
ing the annex. 

Second priority: Renovating the basement. 

Third priority: Renovating the main floor. 

A fourth priority was adopted at the request of the Board of Educa- 
tion: "that a new building be built on the land presently owned by 
the church, for the purpose of a Day Care and Educational facility." 
And finally it was stipulated that at each stage of the proceedings the 
Board of Deacons "must come back to the congregation for presenta- 
tion of plans." 

On May 4, 1969, the chairman of the Board of Deacons announced 
the names of the members of the finance and building committees, 
and the committees began their work at once. Carter Williams was 
again chosen as architect. The issue of "priorities" remained in the 
air, however. "Details on Each Priority" were published in Pullenews 
for October, 1969. At the deacons' meeting on November 2 an effort 
was made to revise them. A set of notes (not minutes) on conversation 
at an unspecified meeting of the deacons in the spring of 1970 reveals 
significant differences both about the priorities and about the way to 
finance the project. 

Meanwhile, David Pittman resigned in the spring of 1969 and the 
Board of Education immediately began the search for a successor. 
They prepared a document entitled "Proposed Job Analysis for Min- 
ister of Education." After a statement on the "Philosophy of Educa- 
tion at Pullen," they listed the following qualifications which should 
be met: 


1. Creativity and capacity for imaginative innovation. 

2. Initiative and ability to plan and work independently. 

3. Professional competence, as shown by graduate degree from theolog- 
ical school with specialization in religious education and by expe- 
rience in this field. 

4. Ability to work with all age levels, especially youth. 

5. Commitment to ecumenical thought and practice. 

6. Organizational skill including aptitude for dealing with the inevita- 
ble petty mechanics organization entails. 

7. Leadership of the sort that guides rather than drives. 

8. Awareness of developments in religious education and related areas. 

9. Emotional and spiritual maturity sufficient to love human beings in 
spite of their failings. 

Their description of the "Duties of the Minister of Education" was 
quite precise: 

Responsibility — shared with the Board of Education — for total educa- 
tional work at Pullen including church school and extended hour, cur- 
riculum development, leadership for the program, youth council and 
retreats, family worship services (summer), coordination of the church 
calendar, and any other areas mentioned in attached documents. 

Responsibility for church participation in ecumenical and commun- 
ity enterprises including the day camp (summer), Raleigh School of 
Religion, Baptist Student Union Advisory Committee, and any other 
areas mentioned in attached documents as well as those that may 
develop in the future. 

At their meeting on June 1, 1969, the deacons received from the 
Board of Education the nomination of T. Melvin Williams to serve as 
Minister of Education. Williams had grown up in Aberdeen, NC, and 
was a graduate of Wake Forest University. For a year after graduation 
from Wake Forest he had served as minister of education and minister 
of music at Oak Lawn Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, where he 
had been minister of music during his senior year in college. He then 
went to Yale Divinity School, where he earned a Bachelor of Divinity 
degree. For the use of the Board of Education in making its decision 
about him, Williams had prepared the following "Theological State- 

I consider myself basically orthodox in my theological beliefs. I 
believe that God revealed himself through his actions with the people 
of Israel, that his fullest revelation has come in Jesus Christ, and that he 
continues to reveal himself in the struggles of men today. The life, 
death and resurrection of Christ has removed my sin and through God's 
grace, forgiven all men. This event has freed me from my sin and thus 
enables me to live with newness and a measure of joy. For this gift, I 
live in continual gratitude. I believe that the church, the Christian 
community, is still centrally important. The worship and fellowship of 
Christians can be one of the most sustaining realities undergirding 


God's work in the world today. I am convinced, however, that too often 
the church has failed to live out its calling in the world. With worship 
as the sustaining strength, I believe that Christians are to seek to serve 
their brothers in the world regardless of class, race, or belief. My 
attempt to live out the Christian life is not done within the cloistered 
walls of the church alone; I seek to live it primarily as I struggle with 
the problems I face about me, both individually and in society. Being 
daily involved in the struggles of work, family, community and nation, 
I must rely on the faith and aid of my brother to sustain me. Thus it is 
God's grace within the community of Christians that continually frees 
me and enables me to live — and to love and care for those persons and 
problems with which I am involved. 

T. Melvin Williams 
Associate Minister 1969-1979 

Like all of his predecessors except Pittman, Williams was trained in 
theology rather than in Christian education. He was more interested 
in, and better equipped for, forming and working with special pur- 
pose groups than working with the traditional religious educational 
program. He was more interested in counseling than in the recruiting 
and training of leaders. His emphasis and his style, in other words, 
were quite different from those of David Pittman. It was for this rea- 
son that when the constitution was revised in 1971 it made provision 
for either a "Minister of Education" or an "Associate Minister." 


Williams must have been bewildered at the confusion over the 
Long Range Plan when he began his work at Pullen. For some time 
it was much discussed but little progress was made on its implementa- 
tion. After the completion of the air conditioning of the sanctuary, in 
the fall of 1969, the church struggled to pay for it. When the Long 
Range Plan was brought up in the deacons' meeting on February 7, 
1971, two years after the congregation had approved the "priorities," 
the church still owed $15,000 on that one project. But the chairman 
brought up the question of whether it were not time to renew efforts. 

Mr. Mackie then began a discussion concerning the feasibility of tak- 
ing significant steps to implement our building program. He intro- 
duced George Capel, Chairman of Building Committee who reviewed 
the status of the priorities which were agreed on two years ago. He 
noted that only the air-conditioning had been installed, and nothing 
had been done since October, 1969. 

In the discussion that followed some people, including the pastor, 
expressed the desire to begin an all-out campaign to complete the 
entire project. Others expressed caution. There was disagreement as to 
whether the deacons should take a recommendation to the church or 
simply present the question for discussion and action. It was finally 
decided to delay action until there could be further discussion with 
the Business Board. After that discussion, in their meeting on Febru- 
ary 28, 1971, the deacons agreed upon a recommendation to carry to 
the church. The following letter was addressed by the deacons to the 
congregation on March 4, 1971: 


At the meeting to discuss the implementation of the Church Building 
Program, the Board of Deacons unanimously adopted the following 
recommendation which wil be voted upon by the Church in conference 
on Sunday, March 28. 

The Board of Deacons of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church recom- 
mend that the church begin immediately a fund-raising campaign to 
be carried on over a period of the next three months with a goal of 
$150,000 pledged to be paid over a period of three years. 

When the goal is reached, all phases of the building program as 
outlined by the Building Committee will be undertaken with the 
total amount borrowed; $150,000 of the amount borrowed will be 
paid off over a period of three years, and the balance paid off over a 
period of fifteen years. 

If this goal is not reached, then the church will reassess the building 

An outline of the Building Program as approved by the church in 
April, 1969, is attached. 


At the March 28 church conference the recommendation was fully 
and freely discussed, and there were strong feelings both in favor of 
and in opposition to the recommendations. Some people spoke of the 
present condition of the building and of the need for space as "criti- 
cal." Others spoke in equally urgent terms against spending so much 
money on ourselves in a world where the need of others is so desper- 
ate. Still others were concerned that the church was not strong 
enough financially to undertake such a project. When the vote was 
taken, sixty-two were cast in favor of the action and forty-one against. 
After the vote, the church directed the chairman of the Board of Dea- 
cons to name a committee to direct the fund-raising campaign. That 
committee was quickly appointed, with Basil Sherrill as chairman. 

The minutes of the next meeting of the deacons reflect their sensi- 
tivity to the strong feeling of unrest in the church. The deacons were 
aware of the need for better communication between the church 
boards and committees on the one hand and the congregation as a 
whole on the other. 

In April, 1971, the editor of Pullenews acknowledged the continu- 
ing differences and tied them in with an uncertainty as to Pullen's 
self-identity and sense of mission. He then expressed the hope that 
"Pullenites will feel free to use the PulleNews as a vehicle of express- 
ing opinions and views." There were responses to the invitation and 
one in particular expressed what many who opposed the project felt. 
It stated: 

There are many of us who, in good conscience, cannot support the 
building program as it now stands. We feel that the plan should have 
been reassessed following the wonderful church conference in the 
spring which probably brought us closer to true community than we 
have ever been. It is unfortunate, 1 believe, that reassessment of the 
proposed plan should have been made contingent on not raising the 
initial $150,000. This puts many of us in the position of not contribut- 
ing to this drive in order to try to effect a reassessment. This is not to 
say that we reject the objectives of adequacy, utility and beauty at 
Pullen; we would like these to be achieved with minimum outlay of 
expenditure with the really big drive concentrating on hunger or hous- 
ing or program personnel or whatever seems to be the greatest human 
need. (Pullenews, July, 1971) 

The minutes of the deacons' meeting for August 1, 1971, summarize 
their long discussion by stating: 

The gist of the discussion was that the pastor sought the full and 
whole-hearted cooperation of the entire board in this tremendous enter- 
prise, and that the board concurred with him in expecting the best of 
the congregation in spite of opposition of a few conservative or, for 
personal reasons, non-participating members. 


To assist in the fund-raising drive, the committee charged with the 
responsibility of directing the campaign engaged the services of Ketch- 
um and Company, a professional fund-raising organization. This was 
the first time Pullen had ever used the services of such an agency, but 
recent efforts without such help had been notoriously unsuccessful. 
Ketchum's fee was paid by an anonymous donor, with the under- 
standing that all other expenses of the campaign would be borne by 
the church. Some members of the congregation were skeptical about 
the use of the agency even though at least two other Raleigh churches 
had had good experiences with it. 

In spite of the problems, the "Future of Pullen" campaign was a 
success. On October 3, 1971, the deacons heard a report that a total of 
$177,000 had been pledged, and that not all of the anticipated pledges 
had yet been made. In a letter of thanks to the anonymous donor who 
paid Ketchum's fee the chairman of the Board of Deacons stated: 

It is my belief that the church would not have approved the use of 
Ketchum & Company if the cost were to be deducted from the campaign 
pledges. The success of the campaign has been no small miracle and it 
has generated a spirit of united dedication which I hope will continue 
for many years to come. 

Carter Williams began working on the plans immediately. Clancey 
and Theys were chosen as the general contractors, and the Bolton 
Corporation was chosen for the electrical work, plumbing, heating, 
and air conditioning. Construction was begun in June. As the work 
progressed, some serious problems with the old building surfaced. In 
addition, it became necessary to provide facilities for pre-school chil- 
dren in the main building. In a letter dated July 25, 1972, the deacons 
notified the congregation of the problems and stated two alternatives: 

Alternative I. Renovate only the interior portion of the old part of 
Pullen as required to improve our Church School facilities at an 
additional cost of $37,000 which will include the cost of financing 
and an allowance for furnishings. 

Alternative II: In addition to the interior renovations, provide the exit 
stairway and elevator at an additional total cost of $106,000 above 
the amount pledged in the Future of Pullen campaign to cover the 
costs of construction, interest charges and furnishings. 

The letter added: "The architects, the Building Committee, the Busi- 
ness Board, and the Board of Deacons recommend the second alterna- 
tive." Meetings were announced for Sunday, July 30, and Sunday, 
August 6, for discussion of the alternatives. A church conference was 
called lor Sunday, August 13, at which a final vote was to be taken. At 
that conference the church voted in favor of the second alternative, 
and thus authorized a greater expenditure in order to complete the 
first three phases of the long-range building plans. 


During all these years, when the church was undergoing so many 
changes in its own life, the nation was in turmoil and was undergo- 
ing many revolutionary changes. Not only were social relationships 
being altered, but also basic convictions were being challenged. No 
longer could anything be taken for granted. In that tumultuous situa- 
tion Bill Finlator was constantly making the news. The News and 
Observer often reported on his sermons, and he wrote many "Letters 
to the Editor" to indicate what he thought was a Christian and/or a 
democratic approach to the problems. From 1957 through 1972 there 
were no less than eighty-one letters from him or articles by him or 
reports on him published in the Raleigh News and Observer. He 
spoke in support of minimum wage legislation, in opposition to cap- 
ital punishment, in praise of the conduct of black students in the sit- 
ins, in opposition to the John Birch Society, in support of civil rights, 
in opposition to prayer in the public schools, in support of legisla- 
tion for gun control. He discussed the war in Vietnam, the liquor 
laws, church-state relationships, the Christian academies, the Black 
Panthers. Often he spoke as the official representative of the American 
Civil Liberties Union. When he wrote, he always identified himself 
simply as "W. W. Finlator." When the newspaper wrote about him, 
however, it always identified him as "Pastor of Pullen Memorial Bap- 
tist Church." 

In his Sunday sermons Finlator often spoke to those same issues. 
Indeed, many of the articles about him were reports on his sermons. 
When he spoke on highly controversial matters, he usually read his 
statements, and he often supplied the newspaper with a copy. Clearly 
not all of the members of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church agreed 
with him on all of his controversial positions, and indeed on some of 
them he had little support. Some of his sermons angered some 
members. Yet Pullen was committed to the freedom of the pulpit. In 
its "Statement of Principles and Goals," the pulpit committee which 
had recommended him to the church had stated that the church 
wanted "A Free Pulpit," and that they wanted from their pastor "A 
challenging message." Finlator took seriously that affirmation of the 
committee — and of the church. He assumed that it was his responsi- 
bility to bring the gospel to bear upon social and moral issues, and he 
realized that his judgments and pronouncements would be challenged 
both in the church and in the community at large. 

The year 1960 might be taken as a typical one in this respect. On 
February 1, 1960, students at North Carolina A. and T. College in 
Greensboro had begun the "sit-in" movement to protest the treatment 
of blacks at the Woolworth lunch counter. That movement spread 
rapidly throughout the South, and within days black students in 
Raleigh were using that tactic at the downtown stores. On February 
13, 1960, the Raleigh News and Observer announced: 


A local Baptist minister spoke up Friday in behalf of Negro college 
students who're conducting protests at chain store lunchroom counters 
across the State. 

The Rev. W. W. Finlator, pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 
said, "The demeanor of self-discipline of the students has been ex- 

The Rev. Mr. Finlator issued a statement which said in part: 

"The only unusual thing in their action is that they're behaving like 
American citizens. The students are doing in our day what we honored 
our forefathers for doing in their day, and that is, struggling for liberty. 
There is one exception: the students are doing it by absolutely peaceful 
means. . . . 

"They have shown a self-controlled, patient and even good-humored 
spirit under circumstances of duress and some harrassment, which is all 
the more admirable when you realize they know they have a cause and 
they're dead serious about it. . . . 

"Our law enforcement officers and, for the most part, our entire citi- 
zenry have responded with similar restraint and self-control and for this 
we can be more thankful." 

On March 2 Finlator was one of a group of fifty-nine Raleigh minis- 
ters who "spoke out Wednesday against racial discrimination in a 
public statement prompted by growing Negro picketing of segregated 
lunch counters." (N&O, 3/3/60) On March 27 the News and Observer 
published his article, one of a series requested by the newspaper, 
appraising the State of North Carolina. He devoted half his article to 
the strengths of the State, and the other half to the weaknesses — and 
the weaknesses he saw had to do with race and labor. On Monday, 
June 13, the paper published a lengthy report of Finlator's sermon on 
the day before in which he "spoke out strongly" against the guberna- 
torial candidacy of I. Beverly Lake. On October 1 of that year, Carter 
Williams, retiring chairman of Pullen's Board of Deacons, submitted 
to the deacons a report of the year at Pullen in which he said, in a 
section entitled "Accomplishments this year": 

The minister has spoken out courageously and unrestricted on various 
issues of Christian living in today's world. This policy has at times 
been provocative of criticism as well as support. These are not times of 
easy decisions. Leadership must always be sensitive to objectives and 
capabilities but free in decision. It is hoped that Christian concern and 
mutual affection will continue to overcome differing viewpoints on 
controversial matters. The pulpit is undoubtedly the heart of a church 
and from it must come the inspiration, the stimulation, and the cohe- 
sive power that validates all the other programs and activities of the 

In that same report Williams took cognizance of the fact that not 
everyone would respond to the kind of preaching that Finlator was 
doing. He stated: 


The response to our consistently liberal and prophetic type of ministry 
has not and probably never will be a rapidly growing membership. The 
character of pioneering, liberal thought, accent on individual freedom 
with responsibility, and innnovation in worship is not of great popular 
appeal even in a denomination ostensibly founded on these principles. 

People did come to Pullen because of its worship and because of the 
stimulating sermons. But other people chose not to come for the same 
reason. It is not surprising, therefore, that some long-time members 
grew increasingly restive, and a few of them painfully came to the 
conclusion that they could not remain at the church. 

The next year C. E. Bishop, who succeeded Williams as chairman 
of the Board of Deacons, made the same kind of report. He wrote: 

The membership of the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church is dedicated to 
a liberal and prophetic type of ministry — a ministry concerned not only 
with man's relation to God but also with man's relation to his fellow 
man. The church has a tradition of deep social responsibility and is 
regarded as serving the community in a position of leadership on 
matters pertaining to social morality. 

In speaking of "ministry" Bishop had in mind the entire congrega- 
tion, not the pastor alone. But in speaking of what was "Accom- 
plished during the year" he said, "The Minister continued to speak 
courageously with freedom and responsibility on matters pertaining 
to major social issues in today's world." 

Finlator did not expect, and he certainly did not receive, universal 
endorsement from his congregation for the stands which he took. He 
received a great deal of criticism from within the congregation as well 
as from the outside. Although in its constitution Pullen had declared 
itself open to Christians without regard to race, there was no agree- 
ment on specific issues involved in "the race problem." Not everyone 
was happy with Finlator's conclusions about the implications of the 
doctrine of the separation of church and state. Not all were opposed 
as he was to capital punishment. Not all favored gun-control legis- 

The reaction of one long-time, active member of the congregation 
to one of Finlator's sermons will illustrate the point. The sermon was 
entitled "In Sober Truth." Preached on December 11, 1966, it was a 
comment on proposals being considered by the State Legislature for 
revising the liquor laws. Fully recognizing the problems associated 
with the "increase in the sale and consumption of alcohol, particu- 
larly among young people," Finlator spoke of the "obvious" need for 
updating our laws so as to deal effectively with the problem. Citing 
Jesus' teaching that laws were made for man and not man for the laws, 
he said, "Our present laws on alcoholic beverages do not fall in this 
category. Our legislators have a solemn obligation to update them." 


Then, in his concluding paragraph, he spoke of many other laws 
which also needed updating: 

And such is the law in North Carolina demanding the supreme penalty 
of capital punishment for certain crimes. Though the conscience of the 
people is against it and juries are reluctant to arrive at it and judges 
shrink from pronouncing it and penologists call for abandonment of it, 
the law is still on the books. And such too are all those harsh and 
inhuman laws dealing with drug addiction and sex deviation and 
alcoholism, treating as criminals people whom modern medicine and 
the insights of psychiatry and the wisdom of sociology and anthropolgy 
have shown us to be people in need of medical care and compassion 
and understanding rather than criminals to be jailed and humiliated 
and blackmailed and deprived of civil justice and dignity. And such too 
are the laws that decree that American citizens cannot marry certain 
other American citizens. Yes, by all means let the General Assembly 
address itself to outmoded and unworkable legislation with regard to 
the consumption of alcoholic beverages, and from this assignment learn 
to give a new look at all old laws that have lost their usefulness and can 
no longer stand the light of man's conscience today, nor be enforced 
without suppression and humiliation, nor command the respect and 
honor to which all law is entitled. Let them and let us face these reali- 
ties in sober truth. 

For that long-time member that sermon was the straw that broke 
the camel's back. After hearing it he wrote to the Chairman of the 
Board of Deacons "conditionally" tendering his resignation. After 
reading a copy of the sermon, he made that resignation final and 
made four observations: 

First. Those of our membership, be they few or many, and others 
elsewhere who are interested in increasing the manufacture, sale or con- 
sumption of alcahol [sic] as a beverage, in my humble opinion, have a 
very effective defender presently occupying our pulpit. I am unalterably 
opposed to the manufacture, sale or consumption of alcahol [sic] as a 
beverage, and I especially deplore its brazen acceptance and defense by 
the minister of our church. 

Second. If intermarriages of the colored and white races are objec- 
tionable to the membership of our Church or any substantial part there- 
of, they seem to have little sympathy or understanding by the present 
occupant of our pulpit. While I have no son or daughter that might be 
the victim of such an arrangement, I wish at this time to express my 
opposition to the removal of the legal restriction to such marriages, and 
deplore a statement from our pulpit which to me seems to encourage 
such marriages. 

Third. Our minister's apparent attitude and frequent utterances on 
moral matters "New Morality'' and sex are distasteful to me, and in my 
opinion, dangerous to our young people. Again, while I have no one to 
be influenced or misguided by such an attitude and utterances, it is my 
conviction that some concern should be shown such serious matters. 


Fourth. The sermon on December 11, 1966, was only the proverbial 
straw and climax. For some time I have been in disagreement with our 
minister's attitudes, utterances and leadership of our church. It now 
seems clear that any hope for an acceptable change is futile. 

Not only did this deacon resign from the Board, but shortly thereafter 
he moved his membership to another church. 

When that letter of resignation was submitted to the Board, there 
followed a general discussion of the resignation "and related mat- 
ters." At the conclusion of that discussion a motion was passed asking 
the chairman to "appoint a committee of deacons to meet informally 
with the pastor and to relate to him the ideas and suggestions which 
had been presented." That committee was appointed and met with 
Finlator on February 27, 1967. In a report dated March 20, 1967, the 
chairman said that the pastor was informed of "the resignation of a 
Deacon and statements by some other members that they were consid- 
ering moving their membership." A summary of the "thoughts and 
comments" expressed in the deacons' meeting were read to the pastor, 
without any names being revealed. "Each committee member then 
attempted to express his own interpretation of the dissatisfaction 
among these members, and of possible ways in which the church 
might improve its ministry to all its members with their varying 
needs." Finlator expressed similar concern, and the meeting con- 
cluded with the committee feeling "that the discussion was helpful 
and that the evidence of mutual understanding and desire for the 
good of the church indicate a spirit of working together toward solu- 
tions of church problems." 

It could not be expected that a minister could consistently preach 
on controversial issues without arousing significant opposition, par- 
ticularly when he comes out so frequently on the unpopular side. One 
issue on which Finlator encountered serious resistance from his con- 
gregation was American involvement in Vietnam. It is impossible to 
say when he first began to question that involvement. It is clear, how- 
ever, that he was one of the first persons to call for our withdrawal 
from Vietnam. Under the headline, "Rev. Finlator Urges Withdrawal 
of U.S.," the Raleigh News and Observer for Monday, March 1, 1965, 

A Raleigh Baptist minister told his congregation Sunday to urge 
President Johnson to withdraw American military forces from South 
Viet Nam. 

The Rev. W. W. Finlator asked his congregation at Pullen Memorial 
Baptist Church in Raleigh to petition Johnson to accept the offer of 
Secretary General U. Thant of the United Nations to mediate such a 
withdrawal, "with honor and with dispatch." 


"From the scant news that trickles through the official censorship 
that has kept us uninformed we learn that the weapons used against us 
are our own, that the enemy we confront is neither Russians nor Chi- 
nese but Vietnamese, that the only foreign soldiers in the land are 
Americans who go by the name of 'advisers.' 

"We find no stable government to work with, or as we say, to 
defend," he continued. "The government that invited us to assist is no 
more. We seem to contribute at will to the setting up and toppling of 
successive governments and apparently none has the backing of the 
people who regard them as expressions of neo-colonialism." 

As the war escalates, the Rev. Mr. Finlator said, nations of the world, 
friendly and otherwise, "recoil in shock and dismay." He expressed the 
fear that soon nuclear restraint may no longer be possible. 

After that, Finlator frequently spoke to that issue both in the pulpit 
and in addresses in other settings. In addition, he wrote letters to the 
editor, both to the News and Observer and the Biblical Recorder. A 
year after that first statement, he was chairman of a group of fourteen 
Raleigh clergymen who "urged President Johnson to end all bomb- 
ing and aggressive warfare in Viet Nam." (N&O, 3/31/66) On Janu- 
ary 21, 1967, the Biblical Recorder carried a letter from him announc- 
ing a "Mobilization" in Washington on January 31 and February 1. 

Quotations from a sermon entitled "An American Tragedy," 
preached on January 22, 1967, will demonstrate the kind of thing that 
Finlator frequently said to his congregation about Vietnam. In the 
introduction he said: 

In speaking today of the tragedy of our involvement in Vietnam I 
shall not talk, as on former occasions, about an unjust and immoral 
war, or dwell on the bankruptcy of American foreign policy so drama- 
tized in Vietnam, or deplore the bombing of civilians, or describe the 
horror of napalm bombs or the shame of the nauseating gas (sometimes 
referred to as 'humane gas,' something no other nation has resorted to 
in modern times), or the defoliation of the forests or the poisoning of 
the rice fields. Instead I shall talk about what the war is doing to us as a 
nation and as a people. As horrible as the war is to the brave Viet- 
namese who for 20 long years have been fighting for their freedom and 
integrity, we shall consider it this morning as an American tragedy. 

He concluded this sermon: 

What to do about it all? This is not the burden of my sermon today. 
You already know how I feel. We went in unilaterally and we can come 
out unilaterally. Our interest there was self-created. We can un-create it. 
We could cease the bombing this very moment and withdraw our troops 
to enclaves, calling on the International Control Commission which 
was specifically set up for this purpose to begin taking over. We could 
announce a phase withdrawal and the dismantling of all our bases. We 
could call for a new convening of the Geneva Powers. We could declare 
our willingness to stand by and honor any government the people of 
Vietnam, North and South and Central, establish under internationally 
supervised elections. We could undertake reparations for the incredible 


damage done this people and this country. We could channel these rep- 
arations and much more, and would to God we would start right now. 
But brethren, as St. Paul put it, my heart's desire and prayer to God for 
America is that they might be saved! Saved from a tragedy of our own 
making. Saved from a loss of faith, a breaching of contract, a crisis in 
credibility, a paralysis in inner renewal, a default of leadership, a 
schism in the soul. 

As Finlator continued to express his opposition to our involvement 
in Vietnam, feelings within the congregation ran higher and higher. 
A letter, written on December 11, 1967, by another long-time church 
member and leader, and addressed to the minister, the Chairman of 
the Board of Deacons, the Chairman of the Business Board, and the 
Church, expressed what many — but not all — of the church members 
were thinking and feeling. 

For some time I have found myself in sharp disagreement with our 
minister's viewpoint, and related activities concerning the war in Viet- 
nam. There was a mild reaction on my part upon seeing my minister 
stand in front of the Post Office for an hour on Wednesdays in silent 
protest against the war in Vietnam. I disagreed with this, and felt that 
the general effect was harmful to our country and damaging to the pos- 
sibilities of ending the war, since it must encourage Ho Chi Minh to 
continue the war. 

I reacted strongly to a sermon preached last summer on the war in Viet- 
nam, copies of which were distributed to the press. I was shocked by 
this, and felt as if I were listening to Hanoi, and not the pulpit of 
Pullen Baptist Church. 

The march on the Pentagon subsequently, like the silent vigil, dis- 
turbed me somewhat. The resolution at the State Baptist Convention 
disturbed me somewhat. Each reference, directly or obliquely, in Sun- 
day services disturbed me, and there have been many of them. The 
Council of Churches resolution, described by Bishop Frazier as naive 
(and whose description is wholeheartedly concurred by me) added some 
fuel to the fire. 

In last week's paper, even after clarification, is the story of counselling 
the students who picketed the induction center and the Selective Ser- 
vices office in Raleigh, and acting as spokesman for them. In Sunday's 
service there was a further defense of these "clean-smelling" weird look- 
ing protestants. As a related matter in Sunday's sermons, I would pro- 
test against labelling the President of the United States as an inveterate 
liar. I fear that Mr. Finlator is so wrapped up in the cause that he does 
not distinguish hearsay and accusation from that which he knows of 
personal knowledge, and repeating such statements from the pulpit 
runs far afield from my understanding of Christianity. 

I have repeatedly instructed my children that when in a group in which 
mischief is afoot, they should disassociate, and get away. They are 


legally aiders and abetters if they remain. The burning of draft cards, 
attempts to interfere with induction centers, etc. are in clear violation of 
the law, as well as being a divisive and undermining factor in the 
strength of this country against communism. I do not state that Mr. 
Finlator is violating the law, but I do state that his actions and his 
words aid and abet such violators by easily-led young people. 

Mr. Finlator has a right to protest, and I have felt for some time, that 
when it goes to the extreme which I feel it is now going, I should exer- 
cise my right of protest and that I will be doing less than my duty not to 
register a counter-protest. 

The author of this letter concluded my resigning from all the offices 
he held in the church and announcing his intention to leave Pullen. 
He was persuaded to withdraw his resignations, however, and he con- 
tinued as an active member of the church until he retired from his 
profession and moved away from Raleigh. 

Two days after the above letter was written, on December 13, 1967, 
Finlator addressed a letter to the congregation in which he responded 
to the rapidly-growing dissatisfaction among the membership. He 

To the Members of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church: 

I write this personal message voluntarily to express deepest regret for 
the distress and anguish I have brought you during the past two years 
with regard to the involvement of our nation in Vietnam. Most of you 
have not shared my views and all of you have been patient and long- 
suffering. I feel that in the warmth and depth of my convictions I have 
taken advantage of your kindness, and your silence, in sermons and 
articles and direct action. I am aware that I may have gone too far and 
presumed too long upon your forebearance and I want so much to find 
the right word and do the right thing to make what amends I can. 

For this reason I am this week severing my relationship with the 
Raleigh Peace Vigil and shall no more on Wednesdays stand with the 
group in silent protest against the war in front of the Post Office. I 
realize that my decision to participate in the vigil was made completely 
on my own. I also realize that, however I might wish it otherwise, I can 
never, as long as I am pastor, fully dissociate my actions from Pullen 
Memorial Baptist Church and that they, in a measure, always involve 

Furthermore as I review my preaching I must acknowledge that all 
too frequently, perhaps repetitiously, the matter of Vietnam has been in 
my sermons. I would be the first to find fault with a fellow minister 
who preached on such a subject as drinking or gambling Sunday after 
Sunday. And now I stand self-accused of the same judgment. Again, I 
have felt deeply and you have listened patiently, but obviously this 
must not go on and on. Because I am convinced that Vietnam presents 
the foremost issue facing our nation, and humanity, it will be difficult 
to me, yet nonetheless, I am hereby subjecting myself to the rigorous 


discipline of proportion, perspective and self restraint and shall in 
future sermons temper my speech with a more hearty request for your 
own honestly arrived at and strongly held convictions. 

Of course I am embarrassed for all of us, and offer apologies, over the 
unfortunate publicity in connection with the recent picketing by stu- 
dents here in Raleigh. Please believe me when I say the students came to 
me and not I to them. While it may not have been necessary for me to 
make the original statement concerning their views, I was, in a mea- 
sure, responding to their overtures to a minister and doing what I could 
publicly to avoid the violence in our community that was actually tak- 
ing place in other areas in the country. 

Thus it is my pledged intention that future statements within, and 
activities beyond, our church and community, without compromising 
the witness one feels he has to make, indicate a deference to your feeling 
and honor our relationship with one another here at Pullen Memorial. 

I am sorry that it is at the Christmas season I write you these words. 
Another time might have been much more appropriate. But this is not 
only the time of peace on earth but also of reconciliation and under- 
standing and my heart goes out to you in love and in thanksgiving and 
in prayer. 


W. W. Finlator 

It proved to be impossible, however, for Finlator to remain com- 
pletely silent on this explosive issue or on other matters of social con- 
cern. Although he did not speak quite as often on the controversial 
issues, he did speak on them from time to time. While he was preach- 
ing on other topics he often made passing references that kept the 
matters before the congregation. For example, in a sermon entitled 
"Speaking of Priorities," delivered on February 8, 1970, Finlator 
asked "What shall be the new order of priorities in the United 
States?" In summarizing his response to that question he said: 

I have my own very firm convictions here and you will find yourself 
in varying degrees of agreement and disagreement with them. I think 
our first priority is total military disengagement from the Vietnam 
tragedy, if not precipitately, at least on a time schedule of not more 
than one year. Along with this, as a second priority, is the radical 
demilitarizing of our national life and economy. Some of our most 
respected leaders speak of us as a military state or as a garrison state and 
one look at the national budget gives an awesome confirmation of this 

After these two priorities, he spoke of the ending of poverty in our 
country, the extending of full citizenship to every American, and pro- 
tecting our ecology. 


In late 1969 President Nixon announced his plan for "Vietnamiza- 
tion" — the replacing of American ground forces with South Vietna- 
mese troops. But in April, 1970, he announced an extension of the 
war into Cambodia! Troop withdrawal was begun, however, and in 
1971 the number of Americans in Vietnam dropped to 159,000. As the 
troops were gradually being withdrawn, a great deal of concern was 
expressed in this country about the prisoners of war. A number of 
groups and individuals began to try to find ways of persuading Hanoi 
to release those prisoners. In a "Point of View" article in the News 
and Observer for Sunday, April 18, 1971, Finlator said: 

The Hanoi government both at home and through its representatives 
at the peace conference in Paris has indicated to our government its 
willingness and desire to begin releasing prisoners when the United 
States announces a specific time by which all American troops will have 
been withdrawn. Hanoi will not even wait for the withdrawal to be 
completed before the exchange begins. In the light of all this let us 
continue to work for and pray for the safety and the security and the 
early return of our service men and for the peace of mind and strength 
of soul of their families here at home. And let us keep on writing those 
letters by the thousands upon thousands. 

But in the future, if we really want the men home, address the letters, 
not to Hanoi, but to Washington. 

Many members of the congregation were solidly behind Finlator. 
Some of them agreed with his stand on Vietnam, and others did not. 
But there was a strong commitment to the ideal of a free pulpit and a 
genuine appreciation of a minister who would speak his mind on 
controversial topics. Some wrote letters of appreciation and encour- 
agement to him, many assuring him of their support even when they 
disagreed with his views. One example of official support for his posi- 
tion came from the Community Concerns Committee. On May 10, 
1972, that group issued to the congregation the following statement: 

We, the members of the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church Community 
Concerns Committee, strongly oppose the escalation of the bombing in 
Indo-China and the mining of the harbors of North Vietnam. We feel 
that such actions are inconsistent with our Christian concern for peace 
and the wellbeing of the human community, and we urge the President 
to reconsider his decisions for increased bombing and harbor mining. 
We also urge Congress to reconsider its funding of the Indo-China con- 
flict in light of these actions. 

The Community Concerns Committee urges the congregation to ex- 
press its concern over the escalated Indo-China War in one of the fol- 
lowing ways: 

(1) Search for an appropriate time to talk with your family about 
American policy, Christian perspective, and war as "a way of life." 

(2) Share your concern with your congressional representatives in per- 
son or by letter or telegram. 


(3) Share your concern with your friends at every possible opportunity. 

(4) Take symbolic action or make statements available to the news 

Pullen Memorial Baptist Church was, therefore, in a crucial situa- 
tion when T. Melvin Williams began his work there. It was divided 
on the question of what to do about the "Long Range Plan" for the 
educational facility, and it was in turmoil because of the controversial 
activities and public pronouncements of its minister. Williams did 
not involve himself in the decision-making process about the build- 
ing. Neither did he speak to the issues to which Finlator spoke. 
Rather in that tumultuous situation he began to work on those mat- 
ters which he understood to be his ministry at Pullen. 

Williams' greatest strength lay in working with groups and with 
individuals. He attended the meetings of the deacons with some regu- 
larity, and reported to them on his activities, particularly his work 
with young people. Often Finlator took note of that work and com- 
mended Williams for what he was doing. According to the minutes 
for November 2, 1969, "Finlator invited attention of board to Mel 
Williams and work he is doing. Youth group, impression on total 
congregation, pastor's heart in visitation, committee work, Pullen 
discussion group, personal study." The next month, December 7, 
1969, Williams "chatted informally" and spoke of what he saw to be 
his work: 

1. Campus ministry and youth — chaplain ministry at N.C. State, uni- 
versity residence hall work, counseling, chaperoning, etc. 

2. Educational ministry at Pullen (though more inclined toward 
pastoral) — on-the-job training. 

3. Involvement with Senior Highs — understanding and friendship. 

4. Sharing pulpit — encourages study and reflection. 

5. Function as resource person for classes and worship. 

6. Sees church as shared responsibility. 

Problems: communication among groups and members — may be met 
by "encounter" groups extending deeper than Sunday morning con- 

7. Work with Poteat choir. 

8. Suggestions for retreats — possibly a deacon's retreat. 

9. Contacts with older members — encompassing wide range of folks. 

From this report it is easy to observe that Williams was more inter- 
ested in group work and in "pastoral" activities than in organiza- 
tional administration. 

Two of Williams' reports to the deacons reflect this kind of interest. 
The minutes for March 1, 1970, state: 

Mr. Williams then mentioned the April Arts Festival plans and intro- 
duced the idea for a Youth Coffee House for the four Friday nights in 
April. The Coffee House would be for teenagers and would be held in 
the Fellowship Hall. Mr. Williams introduced three members of the 
Youth Council who described their plans. 


The minutes for June 11, 1972, state: 

Mel Williams made the following reports: (1) Day camp enrollment is 
full; program begins tomorrow. Union service on June 18 will conclude 
the week. (2) Sam Hill's visits last week were attended by about 75 each 
night and were well received. (3) Dance class on Monday and writing 
class on Tuesdays for the next 6 weeks. (4) Early services are off to a 
good start. 

One of Williams' first programs was the creation of Encounter 
Groups, using the commercially-produced Encounter tapes. Working 
in cooperation with the Baptist Student Union, he invited participa- 
tion by students from N.C. State and Meredith. The literature sent to 
prospective group members to describe the program stated: 

The ENCOUNTERTAPE Personal Growth Program is a serious edu- 
cational instrument. For many people the exercises are deeply involving 
emotional experiences. Those who decide to participate might become 
deeply involved or they might not, but they should know that there is 
this possibility when they join the group. 

A total of twenty-six people were involved in the first three groups. 

In the spring of 1971 the Worship Committee, working with Wil- 
liams, invited Carlyle Marney to preach for three days at Pullen. Mar- 
ney was former pastor of the Myers Park Baptist Church in Charlotte 
and currently was operating "Interpreter's House," an ecumenical 
center of study and work at Lake Junaluska, N.C. In a letter to Pullen 
members announcing Marney's visit Williams said: 

Those of us who have been blessed by Southern Baptist backgrounds 
have long considered Carlyle Marney to be the preacher par excellence, 
whose reputation has risen far beyond Southern Baptist circles. . . . 
Pullenfolk are not accustomed to springtime "revivals." Therefore, we 
have carefully titled Marney's visit "a series of sermons." Despite the 
semantics, we who have invited Marney feel that he is a man who may 
help "revival" to happen for some of us. The renewal of faith and the 
rededication to the living of the Christian life ought to be a goal for all 
of us. 

Although most of Williams' work in the years 1970-1972 was with 
young people, in 1971 he suggested something for the deacons' which 
was ultimately to become a regular activity. On October 3, in a dis- 
cussion in the Board of Deacons on ways of strengthening the spirit- 
ual life, he suggested a retreat. "As to the type of meeting and the 
purpose, he said it would probably center upon getting to know one 
another better and enabling the group to work together better." A 
committee to plan the retreat was appointed, and at the next meeting 
a date was announced and a program "centering on some theological 
reflection with a guest leader and a goal of interaction was sug- 


After Williams had been at Pullen for a number of years he produced 
a leaflet, entitled "For You at Pullen," in which he included a state- 
ment on "Christian Education at Pullen" which puts quite succinctly 
the philosophy which undergirded his career at the church: 

The goal of education is to draw forth the growth and potential of each 
person; we therefore see each person not as an empty vessel to be filled, 
but as one who already has resources to be discovered. In the context of 
the Church and at Pullen in particular, our goal is to help each person 
develop a lively awareness of the personal-spiritual resources within. It 
is a pilgrim's progress of on-going movement toward wholeness in the 
company of fellow travelers — sharing with each other our insights and 
strengths. In the total learning life of the church, we are involved in 
bearing witness to the truth that God is at the center, living in us, draw- 
ing out and freeing our power to love and serve. As sons of God we are 
in continual process of claiming and reclaiming this power, always 
striving toward wholeness, waking up inside, discovering newness, 
finding our depths and through this process seeking to give ourselves 
with passion to the needs of the total community. We invite all who 
share our hope and witness to join us in this pilgrimage. 

A new issue was beginning to emerge within the Baptist denomina- 
tion which was to affect Pullen for the next several years. When 
Pullen adopted its first Constitution on April 20, 1958, it abandoned 
the category of "associate membership" and began to accept into full 
membership people who came from "another church in the evangeli- 
cal tradition." In the 1971 revision of the Constitution the policy was 
changed again, and Pullen began to accept transfers from "another 
Christian communion." Outside Pullen little attention had been paid 
that membership policy. In 1967, St. John's Baptist Church in Char- 
lotte adopted a policy of receiving into its membership anyone who 
had been baptized as a believer, regardless of the mode of baptism. 
That action received a great deal of publicity throughout the state. In 
October the Mecklenburg Association, of which St. John's was a 
member, excluded St. John's by adopting a policy limiting member- 
ship to churches which required their members to be baptized by 
immersion. In other associations efforts were made to have the same 
policy adopted, but those efforts were not successful. There was also a 
move to have the North Carolina Baptist State Convention adopt that 
policy. The issue was arising also in other states, notably in Arkansas 
and in California. Throughout the rest of the 1960's and on into the 
1970's the matter was debated in North Carolina, and hardly a month 
went by without the Biblical Recorder having at least some reference 
to it. Pullen members of course followed the discussions with interest 
and concern. Not for some time, however, did they have to deal with 
the matter because neither the Raleigh Association nor the State Con- 
vention took action during this period. The only reference to the issue 


in the church's official documents was a note that a question came up 
in the deacons' meeting on October 3, 1971, "about the possibility of 
the Southern Baptist Convention purging certain churches. Dr. Finla- 
tor doesn't think this will happen, but he admitted that activities are 
afoot in the State Convention to expel certain churches which have 
been denied the fellowship of their local associations." It was not to 
be long, however, before Pullen would have to face the issue. 


Chapter 8 

A Caring Church 

In An Era of Disintegration 


Richard Nixon was re-elected President in 1972 with a near-record 
520 electoral votes out of a total of 538. As recently as 1970 the possi- 
bility of his winning a second term was very much in doubt. He had 
not fulfilled his promise made in his first campaign that he would get 
the United States out of Vietnam without losing the war. His 
heralded "Vietnamization" policy had failed. The peace movement 
had revived and there had been tragic confrontation between students 
and the National Guard on the campus of Kent State University. In 
New York City marching students were attacked by construction 
workers, and at Jackson State University in Mississippi two black stu- 
dents were killed by state police. The disclosure of the massacre at My 
Lai touched off waves of criticism of the Administration. The publi- 
cation of the Pentagon Papers added fuel to the fire. Nixon was at 
loggerheads with Congress and with the Supreme Court, particularly 
on matters having to do with desegregation. A Gallup Poll conducted 
in mid- 1971 revealed that less than half of the people supported the 
President. Yet successes in foreign affairs coupled with bitter divisions 
in the Democratic Party handed Nixon a landslide victory. 

From the outset of his second term Nixon had to deal with increas- 
ing public indignation over the Watergate incident. The arrest of the 
four burglars at the Democratic National Committee headquarters, on 
June 17, 1972, proved to have been the beginning of the end for him. 


In the midst of the Watergate investigations his Vice-President was 
forced to resign because of charges of tax evasion. Finally, to avoid 
impeachment, on August 9, 1974, Nixon resigned. 

Gerald R. Ford completed Nixon's unexpired term. He faced the 
problem of trying to restore confidence in the integrity of the admin- 
istration, all the while dealing with a suspicious and philosophically 
hostile Congress. In his twenty-six months, he exercised the veto 
sixty-six times. He barely won his party's nomination to run for re- 
election in 1976, almost losing his bid to Ronald Reagan. 

In what has been characterized as a "lackluster" contest for the presi- 
dency Jimmy Carter defeated Ford. Throughout his term Carter had 
to deal with a critical energy problem. His support of a treaty which 
surrendered control of the Panama canal subjected him to criticism 
for giving away something that "rightfully belonged to the United 
States." He fought for the ill-fated Equal Rights Amendment. The 
SALT II treaty which he negotiated was not approved by Congress. 
His most notable achievement was to bring together for peace talks 
Israeli Prime Minister Begin and Egyptian President Sadat. His most 
agonizing problem was the seizure of the American Embassy in Iran 
and the holding of the American hostages. 

Ronald Reagan easely defeated Carter in 1980, campaigning with 
promises to cut taxes, balance the budget, and reduce unemployment. 
He got a tax cut through Congress, although its effects were unevenly 
distributed. Unemployment, which had reached the double-digit level 
in 1979, continued to rise. The deficit in the national budget con- 
tinued to increase. The Equal Rights Amendment was finally de- 
feated. The peace initiative was renewed with a rising tide of support 
for negotiations for an end to the build-' ip of nuclear weaponry. 
Campaigning for re-election in 1984, he had to deal with terrorist 
activities in Lebanon. Yet he won 59% of the popular vote, losing 
only in Minnesota and the District of Columbia. 

Since 1972 there has been no peace in the Middle East. Although 
Egypt and Israel came to terms, no other Arab nation accepted that 
fact. Israel continued her struggle for existence in the midst of a hos- 
tile Arab world. Lebanon, torn by internal strife since gaining inde- 
pendence in 1943, had to deal with the presence of the PLO and with 
Israeli activities against that organization, with the peacekeeping 
troops sent into the country by the United Nations, with Syrian inter- 
ference, and with continuing terrorists activities directed mainly 
against the United States. The Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979, 
and the Ayatollah Khomeini returned to his country in complete con- 
trol of the government. 

Revolutions broke out in Zimbabwe, Chile, Cyprus, Portugal, 
Uganda, Equatorial Guinea. Guerrilla warfare ravaged Zambia, Mozam- 
bique, Central Africa. The Russians invaded Afghanistan; the British 


fought the Argentineans in the Falkland's; and the United States 
engaged in swift military activity in Granada. In Central America the 
United States actively supported the government in El Salvador and 
the rebels in Nicaragua. 

In the world of religion there was significant change. Pope Paul VI 
died in August, 1978, bringing to an end an administration of fifteen 
years in which some of the policies of John XXIII and Vatican II had 
been fully implemented, but in which others of those policies had 
been attenuated. Paul VI was clearly more conservative than his 
predecessor. John Paul I, successor to Paul VI, lived for only one 
month after his election to the Papacy. John Paul II assumed the 
papal throne in October, 1978, the first non-Italian Pope since 1523. 
He proved to be even more conservative than had Paul VI, and there 
has been little effort to carry the spirit of Vatican II any further. 

The churches in the United States struggled with the question of 
the status of women. Some people in the Catholic Church advocated 
the ordination of women as priests, but there was little prospect that 
that would be done. The Episcopal Church finally approved the 
ordination of women. The Presbyterians ordained a number of 
women, though they were slow to place them in positions other than 
Ministers of Christian Education or Associate Ministers. The Ameri- 
can Baptists, who for years had had a handful of women pastors, 
became more open to women serving in that position. Southern Bap- 
tists began to ordain women, though only a handful of women have 
served as pastors of churches. In nearly all denominations women 
have been members of local church boards. The Southern Baptist 
Convention, however, in June, 1984, passed a resolution disapproving 
of women serving as deacons or as ministers. After the passing of that 
resolution there was a wave of protest both against the attitude 
expressed toward women and against the Convention's attempted 
invasion of the rights of the local congregations. 

The most dramatic development in religion was the rise of the 
Moral Majority. There had been a shift to the right in the political 
arena, and this group represented such a shift in religion. An alliance 
between the Moral Majority and the political New Right played a 
major role in the national elections in 1980 and 1984. The shift is seen 
also in the organizational life of most major denominations. It was 
particularly noticeable among Southern Baptists, where throughout 
the period there was a well-organized and carefully-directed strategy 
for getting control of denominational institutions and agencies by 
placing people on the boards of trustees. 

One characteristic of the extreme right is an unwillingness to toler- 
ate differences. This characteristic became evident in the movement 
among Southern Baptists to exclude churches which had membership 


policies that differed from those of the majority. The movement 
began to take shape in the last half of the decade of the 1960's, and it 
focused on North Carolina. 

For North Carolina Baptists the controversy began in the Mecklen- 
burg Association. St. John's Baptist Church, in Charlotte, adopted in 
the spring of 1967 a policy of accepting into membership persons who 
had been baptized as believers in churches of other denominations, 
regardless of how they had been baptized. The essence of their policy 
statement was: 

In keeping with earliest Baptist tradition, we . . . will accept a candi- 
date's baptism as valid, without regard to mode, if it was for him an act 
of obedience which followed conversion and symbolized his identifica- 
tion with the Christian faith and the whole Church as the Body of 
Christ. (BR, 4/8/67) 

The announcement of that policy evoked immediate debate among 
Baptists. A number of pastors in the Mecklenburg Association an- 
nounced their plan to propose an amendment to the Association's 
constitution which would restrict membership to churches that re- 
quire all members to be immersed. On October 20, 1967, the Associa- 
tion adopted the following constitutional amendment: 

All churches affiliated with this association shall be churches who use 
the New Testament as the statement of their faith and church policy 
and require that all candidates, who are physically able, to be immersed 
in water, on the basis of belief in Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, to 
qualify for membership. 
By that action not only St. John's but also Myers Park, which had had 
an open membership policy since 1949, were disqualified for member- 
ship in the Association. 

The action of the Mecklenburg Association raised the possibility of 
similar action being taken by the North Carolina Baptist State Con- 
vention. The Arkansas Baptist State Convention had set a precedent 
in 1965 by refusing to seat messengers from a church which practiced 
open membership, and in 1968 by withdrawing fellowship from four 
churches for the same reason. The Biblical Recorder published a 
number of letters which dealt with the possibility of an amendment to 
the constitution of the State Convention, and it became apparent that 
the issue would have to be faced. 

M. O. Owens, pastor of Parkwood Baptist Church , Gastonia, pro- 
posed the following amendment for consideration at the annual con- 
vention held in 1971: 

Article IV. Composition, shall be amended as follows: the lines — "a 
cooperating church shall be one that supports any object of the Con- 
vention and which is in friendly cooperation with this Convention and 
sympathetic with its purposes and work" shall be amended by the addi- 
tion, after "purpose and work," of the following: "and which is Baptist, 


following the New Testament teaching of salvation by grace, and prac- 
ticing believer's baptism by immersion only, thus consisting of im- 
mersed professed believers in Jesus Christ (excepting where a professed 
believer's immersion is prevented by physical disability)." (BR, 

Although a slight majority of the messengers to the Convention voted 
in favor of the amendment, it fell far short of the two-thirds vote 
necessary for adoption. Owens tried again the next year with the same 
proposed amendment. When it became apparent that his proposal 
would fail, he joined President Tom Freeman, pastor of the First Bap- 
tist Church of Dunn, in support of a "compromise motion" that was 
overwhelmingly passed: 

That we reaffirm our faith in the Bible as our sufficient guide in 
matters of faith and practice and that we reaffirm our faith in the auton- 
omy of the local church. That we reaffirm and declare our conviction 
that believer's baptism by immersion in water is the teaching of the 
New Testament and should be a requirement for members in any 
church that calls itself Baptist; 

2. That we hereby, in spirit of Christian love, earnestly plead with 
the churches differing at this point to recognize that though freedom 
allows such practice, Christian love and the welfare of our denomina- 
tion override such freedom and ask that they choose the course and 
follow the practice followed by the other 99 percent of N.C. Baptists in 
insisting on believer's baptism by immersion in water as a prerequisite 
to church membership. 

3. That we earnestly request any other churches considering this 
course to refrain from following the pattern set by these 20 or so 

4. That we authorize the President of this Convention to appoint a 
committee of 1 1 of which he shall be a member and chairman, and one 
which shall be strong, and representative of both conservative and lib- 
eral view points, to take this resolution and this plea to any and all 
churches in our fellowship now receiving people into membership 
without requiring of them baptism by immersion; that they urge these 
churches in love and for the sake of harmony and our labors together to 
comply with this request; that this Committee make a full report to 
North Carolina Baptists in the pages of the BIBLICAL RECORDER at 
least 60 days before our annual Convention in 1973; and that this report 
be without any recommendations. 

The original draft of section 2 of the motion referred to the churches 
as "erring" rather than "differing" and "demanded" rather than 
"asked" that the churches give up their freedom to differ. 

Freeman appointed the committee in February, 1973. In its organi- 
zational meeting the committee tried to underscore its intent to be a 
reconciling agency. Initially they had difficulty in determining how 
to go to the churches, for they did not wish to appear to violate the 


autonomy of the local congregation. After three meeetings they de- 
cided to ask the Biblical Recorder to publish the following "Open 
Letter to Differing Churches": 

Any Baptist Church in our fellowship that is following a policy of 
receiving members into full membership in the Church without requir- 
ing baptism by immersion, is respectfully requested to write to the 
Chairman of the Committee of 11, and if possible, to send a copy of the 
church membership policy as a matter of shared information, to be kept 
confidential, if required. 

In addition, the Committee would like to know whether such churches 
would be willing to meet with the Committee. In fact, several churches 
have already written to express a willingness to meet with the Commit- 
tee. If your church is one of those affected by the resolution, the Com- 
mittee of 11 would like to know whether (1) You wish to meet with us, 
and (2) Whether you would prefer us to come to your church or would 
prefer to join two to four other churches in sending representatives to 
meet with us at a mutually-chosen site. (BR, 3/24/73) 

There was not complete harmony on the committee because there 
were significant differences of attitude. Their work was complicated 
by rumblings in the Convention that no matter what the committee 
found, another amendment would be proposed at the next session of 
the Convention. 

At the meeting of the deacons of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church 
on April 1, 1973, W. W. Finlator presented the content of the "Open 
letter." He also read a letter "from Warren Carr of Wake Forest Bap- 
tist Church proposing a meeting with one minister and three laymen 
representing each church. The Board of Deacons agreed to consider 
this matter and come together at a special meeting Sunday, April 8th 
at 2 p.m." 

At the April 8 meeting, W. W. Finlator reviewed the background of 
the controversy and reported on the meeting at Wake Forest. At that 
meeting Warren Carr had proposed that the eleven churches make a 
joint response to the committee's overtures. Finlator outlined what he 
saw to be Pullen's alternatives: 

1. To sit tight, do nothing, and let the committee make the overtures, 
to which Pullen would respond accordingly. 

2. To follow through on the procedure proposed by Warren Carr and 
others (i.e. join with the other churches and deal with the committee 
as a group). 

3. To send our own statement to the committee and ask them to come 
to speak to us at our church. 

Finlator favored the third alternative, and said that he thought that 
some of the other churches would take the same position. After 
lengthy discussion, in which wide variety in opinion became appar- 
ent, the deacons directed the pastor and the chairman of the Board of 
Deacons to draft a letter to the committee expressing the concensus 


which the Board had reached. That letter, dated April 17, 1973, stated: 

We have read the indirect communication from you and the Committee 
of Eleven in the p^ges of the Biblical Recorder. While we are sensitive 
to and sympathetic with the anomalous position of your committee in 
carrying out the mandate of the 1972 Convention, an unprecedented act 
which we think presents serious challenges and has disturbing implica- 
tions and overtones for our Baptist people, we should have nevertheless 
preferred a direct communication from you rather than the open letter 
in the Recorder with the request for information from our church and 
the listing in the same issue of the names of the "differing churches." 

Our concern for the ambiguity of your situation, however, does not 
turn us from our firm obligation in our own local church to be faithful 
to time honored basic principles to which all of us as Baptists adhere. 
We are convinced that an affirmative and unexamined response to your 
communication, despite our desire to be cooperative and our wish to 
make your difficult assignment as easy as possible, would still be violat- 
ing the principle of local autonomy in the individual churches. 

Nevertheless, because of our strong and rewarding association with our 
fellow churches in the Baptist State Convention over the many years we 
make a counter proposal: Should the Committee of Eleven wish to 
come to Pullen Memorial Baptist Church to share with us the position 
and concern of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina on the 
matter of baptism, and should the committee wish to explore with our 
people the theological, biblical and doctrinal considerations of this 
ordinance, and should the committee by direct communication request 
permission to visit our church for this purpose, we do hereby assure you 
that our Board of Deacons will promptly and courteously grant such 
permission and that the Committee of Eleven would be accorded every 
kindness and consideration. The Committee would come as guests of 
our Board of Deacons and a meeting would be held to which all 
members of our congregation would be invited. 

On May 5, 1973, in an article in the Biblical Recorder, Toby Druin, 
reporting on the work of the Committee of Eleven, stated: 

Freeman last Friday read responses he had received from 10 of the 12 
churches previously named. No additional "differing churches identi- 
fied themselves. 

All except one indicated their willingness to meet with the committee 
along with representatives of other churches. Only Pullen Memorial 
Church, Raleigh, failed to indicate that it would send representatives to 
a joint meeting with other churches and the committee. Chairman of 
deacons Mrs. Roger Crook said, however, that they would be glad to 
meet with the committee and discuss the matter. 

In response to that statement Pullen's pastor and the chairman of the 
Board of Deacons addressed a letter to the Committee, to the other 
"Differing" churches, to the Biblical Recorder, and to the Baptists of 
North Carolina. Dated May 24, 1973, the letter stated that Pullen had 


notified the Committee that they had chosen one of the options which 
the Committee had offered in its "Open Letter." It observed, "The 
only response we received to this letter was a form, exactly the same as 
that received by other churches, acknowledging our letter, but making 
no reference to our invitation to the Committee to request a meeting 
time." Another paragraph added: 

At the meeting of the Committee with area churches in Raleigh, May 
27, Pullen Memorial will not be represented, not because this church 
wishes in any way to appear uncooperative, but because it wishes to 
entertain the Committee in its own way, according to the Committee's 
first request. Rather than let it seem that Pullen is unresponsive, we 
would hope to draw from the Committee a response that is at once 
personal, within Baptist tradition, and Christian as it deals with us as 
persons, as an autonomous congregation, and as a part of the Body of 

The proposed May 27 meeting in Raleigh did not take place. The 
chairman of the Committee of Eleven responded to Pullen's request 
with the information that the Committee was to meet on July 2 with 
Watts Street Church and Binkley Memorial Church. The Committee, 
according to the minutes of the deacons' meeting of June 3, "would 
like to have us to attend that meeting. If we are unwilling to do so, 
they will set up a meeting with us alone." The deacons reiterated 
their insistence on Pullen's meeting with the Committee alone. 

Plans were made for the Committee to visit Pullen on Monday 
evening, July 30, 1973. Roger Crook, Professor of Religion at Mere- 
dith College and a Pullen member, was asked to prepare a statement 
of the church's position. His statement was distributed to the church 
membership for its study and suggestion. After reviewing the process 
by which Pullen had reached its position, the document declared: 

Baptism, as we understand it, is the symbol of a person's Christian 
experience of salvation, of his movement from unfaith to faith. It signi- 
fies repentance, a dying to sin and rising to new life in Christ. The time 
for this symbolic action is the beginning of the new life in Christ. We 
believe it inappropriate to employ this meaningful symbol as a mere 
initiation ceremony, the means by which one who has already been a 
Christian for many years now becomes a Baptist. Baptism, in our 
judgment, is far too important for that. 

The document then placed the Pullen position within the context of 
Baptist history. It concluded with a reaffirmation of the nature of the 
Convention as a cooperative agency intended for the support of mis- 
sionary causes, not one which exercises any right to draw up a creed 
for its member churches. 

Some seventy-five members of Pullen Memorial Church attended 
the session on July 30. After the chairman of the Committee of Eleven 
reviewed the responsibility of the Committee, the church's statement 


was read. Representatives of the church presented individual state- 
ments. A lengthy discussion followed, with some elements of "debate" 
involved. The Committee gave a good deal of attention to the ques- 
tion of biblical support for the church's position. When some mem- 
bers of the church asked about the possible exclusion of Pullen from 
the Convention, a member of the Committee reminded them that the 
Committee was to make no recommendations. The moderator of the 
meeting expressed appreciation for the clarification, but added, "I 
hope you will understand, however, that the thought of exclusion is 
very uppermost in our minds, not by the committee, but by the con- 
vention." (Notes on the meeting taken by Suzanne Newton) 

On Sunday, November 11, 1973, just prior to the meeting of the 
Convention, Finlator preached a sermon entitled "One Lord, One 
Faith, One Baptism." After reviewing the work of the Committee, 
including its meeting with Pullen Church, he examined and evalu- 
ated the proposed constitutional amendment. He concluded: 

For ourselves at Pullen Memorial we are honored to be a part of the 
Baptist State Convention and treasure and cherish our involvement in 
its fellowship, its program, and its history. While there are other 
sources and vitalities available to us as a congregation we would 
respond to exclusion from our Baptist State Convention of North 
Carolina with the anguish of a son driven from his family. We would 
survive and continue our witness but the expulsion would be nothing 
less than spiritual trauma. We shall hope and pray that this will not 
happen, that North Carolina Baptists will not let it happen. At the 
same time it must be said again that we have reached together as a 
responsible and autonomous Baptist body the position we hold on bap- 
tism, and are convinced of its Tightness for us both biblically and doc- 
trinally. We have, as our Baptist Convention requested, reconsidered 
our practice and have emerged from the study only more deeply con- 
vinced of the validity of what we have done. We must therefore in all 
love and integrity say that not even the threat of exclusion from our 
Convention can make us forsake a principle nor deny a conviction. 

As instructed, the Committee on Eleven published its report in 
advance of the meeting of the Convention. Seven Baptist pastors, 
including M. O. Owens, Jr., who had introduced the amendment at 
earlier conventions, and who had been a member of the Committee of 
Eleven, announced their intention to propose the amendment again 
at the 1973 Convention. During that Convention, however, when it 
became apparent that the proposal would fail again, one of the seven 
signers withdrew it "in a spirit of unity." 

The issue was not finally disposed of until the next year. James M. 
Bulman, Convention parliamentarian, proposed the amendment at 
the 1974 session, with ony a slight change in wording. The debate on 
his proposal lasted 45 minutes, and the debaters were for the most 
part the same people who had spoken in previous Conventions. When 


the vote was taken, the amendment was defeated "by as much as 3 to 
1." After that vote, the Convention was to be troubled by the issue no 
more, and neither was Pullen. 

Throughout the history of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, the 
deacons have been concerned with understanding their role as deacons 
and with their involvement in the spiritual development of the 
church. Beginning in 1971, for help in their own spiritual growth and 
to get a better sense of direction for the church, they began to hold 
annual retreats. In those retreats they usually gave attention to bibli- 
cal and theological considerations. At almost all of them at least one 
session was devoted to a consideration of the role of the deacon. Some- 
times members of the Pullen congregation were leaders of the ses- 
sions, and sometimes outside resource persons were asked to lead. 

Another development in the life of the church in the early 1970's 
was the formation of a close association with the Method Day Care 
Center. For several years prior to 1973 the Center had been in opera- 
tion in the Method community, located on the edge of Raleigh 
between Hillsborough Street and Western Boulevard. For several years 
there had been some interest at Pullen in the operation of a day care 
center. In 1973, when the Center needed to find new facilities, it 
entered into an agreement with Pullen Church that served the inter- 
ests of both groups. By that agreement Pullen provided space and 
facilities; the Center maintained its own operation, was governed by 
its own Board of Directors, and was responsible for all expenses asso- 
ciated with the operation. Pullen was to have a liaison person to 
maintain official contact with the Center. The Center began opera- 
tion at Pullen on February 1, 1974. 

In the spring of 1981 an arrangement for expanded services was 
worked out. The Method board and staff wished to provide infant care 
and brought to the Board of Deacons a request that Pullen "extend 
the stewardship of the building to serve this need." The deacons 
engaged in a lengthy discussion, not on the merits or demerits of the 
request, but on the complicated queston of "which boards and com- 
mittees had the authority/responsibility to act or to be consulted on 
this issue." The secretary observed that the Method board representa- 
tive "was bewildered with the response and confused as to the proce- 
dure he would have to follow to finally get an official response from 
the church on the proposal." At last, according to the minutes: 

Allen Page moved and Jim Greene seconded that the Board of Deacons 
approve, in principle, the recommendation made by Method Day Care 
Center with regard to enhancing the Pullen facilities to include infant 
care, subject to the support and approbation of the Business Board, the 
Board of Education, the Building and Grounds Committee, the Minis- 
ter of Education, and the Sunday School Superintendent. The motion 
passed unanimously. (5/1/81) 


In the fall of 1983 the deacons asked for a special study of "Method 
Day Care Center and its relation to Pullen." A special committee was 
appointed for this purpose. The committee worked quickly and circu- 
lated to the deacons a report dated October 26, 1983, which stated that 
the relationship should be "reaffirmed and deepened." It contained 
four recommendations, the most important of which were the placing 
of five Pullen members on the Method Board of Directors and signifi- 
cantly increasing Pullen's contribution for scholarships for children 
of low income parents. The deacons approved the recommendations. 

Although the Method Day Care Center is not an agency of Pullen 
Memorial Baptist Church, the relationship between the two is such 
that many people consider Method an extension of Pullen's ministry. 
A number of Pullen people have served on the Method Board of 
Directors and a number of others have worked as volunteers in the 
Center. Pullen's Community Concerns Committee, which worked out 
the plans for Method's location at Pullen, provides scholarship funds 
for children from economically deprived families. The arrangement 
has clearly been a happy one both for Method and for Pullen. 

Of all the developments at Pullen in the decade of the 1970's, one of 
the most unusual was the establishment of a relationship with Coven- 
try Cathedral in Coventry, England. An industrial center famous for 
the manufacture of automobiles, in World War II Coventry was con- 
verted into a center for the production of airplane engines. It was 
targeted for total destruction by the Germans, and on the night of 
November 14, 1940, bombs virtually leveled the city. The great 11th 
century cathedral was left an empty shell. After the war a new build- 
ing was constructed, with the theme of reconciliation permeating 
both the architecture of the building and the life of the congregation. 
One expression of that theme was the creation of "The Community of 
the Cross of Nails," with centers in churches around the world dedi- 
cated to the effort of reconciliation. 

Pullen's first official relationship with Coventry was the sending of 
a group of young people to spend a month studying, working, and 
worshipping there in the summer of 1974. Mary Ruth Crook pro- 
posed the idea after she had visited the cathedral in the summer of 
1972. It was she who won the approval of the deacons, recruited the 
leadership, and planned a program of study., Mel Williams led the 
group of twenty young people and five adult leaders on the pilgrim- 
age. From the point of view of both Pullen Memorial Church and 
Coventry Cathedral the project was an outstanding success. Two years 
later, in 1976, a second group of twenty young people and five adult 
leaders went to Coventry. They too had a specifically tailored pro- 
gram which involved them in the life and work of the cathedral. 
Other groups went in 1979 and in 1982. 


The visit of those student groups to Coventry led Pullen to another 
connection with the cathedral. In 1977 Pullen became a center of Cov- 
entry Cathedral's Community of the Cross of Nails. Shortly after the 
1976 group returned home Alan Eakes, who had been the leader of the 
group, received a letter from Father John McGuire, dated September 
14, 1976, which included the following paragraphs: 

I have spoken to the Provost about how much you and your young 
people have meant to us and also their great affection for the Cathedral 
and also the important part they played in our Ministry this Summer. 

He is very keen to deepen our association with them and, indeed, the 
entire Pullen Community. So impressed is he by your Church's dedica- 
tion to Coventry and its vision that he feels very inclined to make your 
Church a Cross of Nails Centre. 

Would you please discuss this with your Pastor and see how he would 
feel about this coming to be. I am sure that all it would take at this 
point would be his requesting Provost Williams to make Pullen one of 
our Coventry Centres of Reconciliation. The fact that two large groups 
have come here in the past two years, and have been so exceptional, 
means a great deal to us, and I do hope this deeper affiliation can come 

The deacons reponded favorably even though they were unsure 
about what that association might entail. W. W. Finlator wrote to 
McGuire expressing appreciation for what Coventry had done for the 
Pullen young people and responding to the invitation to ask for 
membership in the Community of the Cross of Nails. He said: 

In response to the overture in your letter we brought the matter to our 
Board of Deacons on Sunday evening, October 3. The Board of Deacons 
promptly directed me to write you conveying our gratitude and our 
desire to take affirmative action. The Board requests that you give us 
suggestions for procedure to become officially a part of the Coventry 
fellowship and that the matter be brought before the Board for further 

On December 15 Father McGuire replied, "The Provost welcomes 
your request, and would like to suggest to your Board of Deacons that 
he come to present your Church with a cross of nails in the evening of 
Sunday October 30th, next year, accompanied by Mrs. Eloise Lester, 
Director of the Community of the Cross of Nails, and myself." 

For some months after that, communication was limited, and there 
was some uncertainty at Pullen about what the status was and what 
the relationship meant. On August 15, 1977, Finlator wrote Provost 

Through our Board of Deacons our church has taken official action 
requesting status as a Cross of Nails Center. Will you do what is neces- 
sary to carry through on this for us at the Cathedral? Will you also 
direct me to tell the congregation what is further expected of us to 
achieve full status? 


Williams responded on August 23: "I am most grateful to you for 
your letter. The Cross of Nails, properly engraved for the Pullen 
Memorial Baptist Church, is already in Washington for me to bring 
to you on Sunday, October 30th." 

The Cross of Nails, which hangs on the rear wall of the sanctuary, 
was presented in the service on Sunday evening, October 30, 1977. 
Participants in the service were H.C.N. Williams, Provost of Coven- 
try; Eloise Lester, Director of the Community of the Cross of Nails; 
Kenyon Wright, of Coventry Cathedral; Roger Crook, Chairman of 
Pullen's Board of Deacons; Alan Eakes, Chairman of Pullen's Coven- 
try Committee; Mary Ruth Crook, Founder of the Pullen-Coventry 
Pilgrimage; T. Melvin Williams, Jr., Associate Minister at Pullen; 
and W. W. Finlator, Minister of Pullen. The theme of the service as 
"Father Forgive." A brief statement on the back of the bulletin 
explains the significance of the service: 

The Community of the Cross of Nails is a world-wide community of 
individuals and groups, who share a commitment to a practical vision 
of reconciliation and genuine intention to live a disciplined Christian 
life. It springs directly from the united efforts of the community of Cov- 
entry Cathedral, exercised, since the loss of the old Cathedral under 
attack from the air in 1940, throughout the period of destruction and 
the incitement to bitterness which followed. 

The symbol is a cross made by a priest from three fourteenth century 
iron nails which fell from the blazing timber of the roof. The symbol 
was an immediate expression of hope, and of a resolve that there should 
be a resurrection from the rubble. This resurrection was accomplished 
in physical terms with the building of the new Cathedral, which was 
completed and consecrated in 1962. 

But far more important than the reconstruction of the building was the 
establishment of a dynamic experimental twentieth century ministry 
among people, with reconciliation at its heart. The Community of the 
Cross of Nails is the worldwide expression of this vision. 

The months following the presentation of the Cross of Nails were 
again a period of somewhat limited communication, and that failure 
to communicate created some feeling of concern. In the summer of 
1978 Mary Ruth and Roger Crook, with a group of students from 
Meredith College, spent two weeks at Kennedy House, an interna- 
tional hostel at the Coventry Cathedral. On July 4 Mary Ruth Crook 
wrote to the Pullen Church staff: 

The provost also spoke to our group. He ended on a disturbing note 
which is the object of this letter. Because he has not had regular com- 
munication with Pullen, he is of the opinion that we have not fulfilled 
our commitment as a Cross of Nails Center. He spoke rather sharply 
about this, and I immediately made an appointment to discuss the mat- 
ter. Roger and I went, but the Provost had been called away, so we had 


two subsequent conversations with Connie Downes. Eloise Lester was 
away on holiday, or we would have talked with her as well. I had taken 
the book of photographs, leaflets, pages from the yearbook and espe- 
cially significant bulletins of Sunday worship all laid out in a way that 
described Pullen's year (or so) since October 30. We explained our 
understanding of our purpose, and she explained the Cathedral's (i.e., 
the Provost's) expectations. It seems that he and Eloise and John 
Maguire should have had a session with our ministers or Coventry 
committee explaining about the beginning of a Chapter which is a 
group of volunteers who pledge themselves to the "Discipline" (as out- 
lined in the leaflet) and indicate such to the Cathedral through the 
"Application" and payment of $4.00 each to cover costs of mailing 
materials regularly from the Cathedral. We need a designated corre- 
spondent to inform the Provost regularly of the activities of this Chap- 
ter which should meet at least quarterly to share ideas. Roger and I 
identified points of the Discipline with Pullen's program of Bible Study 
and corporate worship and community involvement. So all that is lack- 
ing is the formal designation of a Chapter and a correspondent. Connie 
suggested that upon our return we form this Chapter from any who 
have been to Coventry and any others interested, then choose a corre- 
spondent, send in our money for the regular mailings, and keep the 
Provost informed! She was very sorry that we did not know all this 
(maybe I was the only ignorant one) but said that communication from 
our end was essential. She felt that Pullen is fulfilling its purpose (and 
has always been a center of reconciliation) and will explain to the Pro- 
vost what we explained to her. Eloise Lester is to be based in the U.S. 
next year for the purpose of keeping in touch with and helping Ameri- 
can churches, and will come on our invitation to talk and work with 
our chapter. 

Eloise Lester did establish her headquarters in the United States, at 
St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Atlanta. In due season, on March 17 
and 18, 1979, she spent a week-end with Pullen. Among other matters, 
she shared information about an additional feature of the Commun- 
ity, the system of Foyers. According to the literature, "This is the for- 
mation within the church membership of small groups of about eight 
which meet monthly in the homes of members for a simple meal and 
relaxed conversation. The Foyer groups are changed every six months." 
Pullen proceeded immediately to set up this system, and that has 
proved to be one of the most helpful features of the church's involve- 
ment in the Community. 

Whatever dissatisfaction Provost Williams may have felt initially, 
the situation was resolved. In February, 1980, he was again a guest of 
the church. Following that visit he wrote to W. W. Finlator: 

At long last I am back at the desk after concluding the travel and fight- 
ing off a flu bug. I wanted to thank you and all of the wonderful people 
at Pullen for your most gracious hospitality and the opportunity of 


being with you several weeks ago. This is my third visit with all of you, 
and each time I come away with a real sense of having been with a very 
committed and Christian community ... a group of Christians who 
have all of the characteristics of those marvelous people of the early 
church . . . loving, sharing and knowing their ministry in God's world. 
Much of this is certainly due to your very fine leadership. Bless you! 

Pullen's involvement in the Community of the Cross of Nails has 
continued primarily through the operation of the Foyer system, 
through individuals maintaining their membership through annual 
dues and contributions, and through continuing support of the pil- 
grimages of the young people to Coventry. 

A year and a half after he had led the first group of young people 
on the Coventry pilgrimage, Mel Williams was granted a six-months 
sabbatical. Although he had come to Pullen as Minister of Education 
in 1969, his work had been more inclusive than that. His title was 
changed to "Associate Minister" when the 1971 Constitutional revi- 
sion provided for that position. His early interest in group work grew 
throughout his ministry. Although the records are incomplete, there 
is enough information to understand how he worked. In August, 
1973, he conducted a "Leadership Training Retreat" for church 
school workers, and in September he held a "follow-up session." In 
October, 1973, he began two "Enabling Groups" which met over a 
ten-week period on Sunday evenings. For the participants he de- 
scribed the nature of the groups: 

As you know, each group is self-determining. Your own personal agen- 
das will very much influence the direction your group will take. I have 
provided some basic guidelines, which have already been enumerated. I 
see the goal of the group as personal grwoth through the development 
of group trust. It's an attempt to get to know each other in a substantial 
way, through personal sharing. Hopefully, you will enable each other 
to be more fully the kind of person you want to be. A support group. 

Such Enabling Groups were to be a continuing part of Williams' 
work at Pullen. 

From time to time Williams preached at the Sunday morning ser- 
vice. His sermon titles give a clue to the dominant concerns in his 
ministry: "Afraid to be (Me) (Free)"; "The Way to Radical Amaze- 
ment"; Beyond Obedience"; "The Fellowship of the Weak"; "The 
Alarming Possibility of Being Able": "Giving Up, for God's Sake"; 
"What Do You Want Me to Do for You?"; and "Healing with 

Williams' sermon on "The Alarming Possibilities of Being Able" 
summarizes his objectives for himself and for the people with whom 
he worked. He began by saying, "Beneath all the issues of life which 
clamor for our attention, there is one basic issue: What does it mean 
to be a person — an able person?" After describing his own pilgrimage, 
he summarized his conclusions: 


Here are the elements in my vision of possibilities for being a person: 

1. This person has a solid sense of his or her own specialness as a 
person. Uniqueness. . . . 

2. He or she has a sense of worth and competence as a Person — a sense 
of Self, so that my bubble bumps into your bubble. You emerge as a 
distinctive being. . . . 

3. There is a naturalness and spontaneity, with a minimum of self- 
consciousness or self-preoccupation. 

4. You have the will to be fully yourself — living from within, from 
inner resources, rather than from the expectations of others. . . . 

5. He has an absence of fear — and I'm convinced that fear is the Great 
Obstacle that blocks and prevents us from seeing the wild possibili- 
ties for our lives. 

6. The person I want to be lives with the sure faith that his needs will 
be met as he can give himself to others. . . . 

7. He takes the "givens" of his life — his circumstances, abilities, his- 
tory, parents, etc. — and weaves them into the fabric and fullness of 
his person. In other words, he has a courageous self-acceptance, and 
a sense of satisfaction with who he is, limitations included .... 

8. I am in charge of me. I am responsible for my feelings, my judg- 
ments, my failures. I am a victim only if I allow it. . . . 

9. This person in my vision knows what his or her strengths are. So 
that you can live out of those strengths rather than from your 

10. This person assumes that his inner resources and strengths are 
great. Your creative potential is high. . . . 

11. This process of self-discovery means that every day is exciting. . . . 

12. This commitment to personal growth and discovery means that I 
am an adventurer. I am constantly interested in my journey taking 
me to some new ground, some new trail where I've never been. Like 
moving up a mountain, gaining new standpoints as you go. When 
you see your life as an adventure , you will see also that you are 
committed to risk, to courage, and to a radical trust in yourself. In 
other words, you are a free person. You know the grace of freedom. 

Williams' understanding of Christian education was thoroughly 
consistent with the ideas which he expressed in that sermon. On Jan- 
uary 23, 1973, he released a document entitled "A Point of View for 
Christian Education at Pullen, in which he stated: 

I have ceased to view education in terms of the inculcation of a body of 
knowledge. I do not think we are here to "teach religion," though I 
recognize that some biblical and theological facts are essential. I think 
of education, especially Christian education, not as a pouring of facts 
into empty heads, but as a leading forth, a leading out (educere) of what 
is within each person. The teaching I see is definitely informed by bib- 
lical foundations (so that means we will study the Bible). But I'm most 
interested in the learning here that is not academic but existential; that 
is, related to where you are in your life. Real learning takes place when 
the subject matter touches the learner's personal life. In theological 
terms, How and Where does the life of God touch my life? 


In the context of Pullen Church this kind of learning is vital, even 
crucial. I don't think you can teach a person to be a Christian, for the 
process of becoming a Christian is a process of self-discovery. I want to 
help people discover for themselves that the Christian life is a worthy 
life to lead — that it's important to ground your life in a "spiritual" 
base. That is to say, your relationship to God is crucial as a base for 
your relationship to people around you. Who then is God for you? 
What is your Christian faith like? What do you want to understand 
with regard to your faith? What do you want your children to get from 
this church school? 

This is what I want from Christian education here: First, I want a sense 
of community — where I feel a good level of acceptance and belonging. 
In order for existential learning to happen in any educational setting, I 
think the accepting community is vital. . . . Rather than imparting a 
body of knowledge as we are teaching each other how to live. We are 
enabling each other to discover values by which to live. And how are 
values taught except by self-discovery? So — if I want to teach a person 
how to live. . . . No, if I want to ENABLE someone to live — i.e., help 
him to discover his own resources and strengths — I need to have some 
notion of what a real person (a Christian) is. 

Here Jesus is my model, for he shows me most clearly who God is and 
what God desires for my life. Ah now, a camera gets a clearer focus. For 
I look at Jesus and see a man-human-me. I identify with this man, and 
I say, "Now educate me to be like this man." Educate me to accept his 
kind of life. After all, I have some of Jesus' same capacities in me. 

In addition to his work with groups and with the church school, 
Williams spent an increasing amount of his time in counseling, par- 
ticularly with married couples who were experiencing some difficulty 
and with divorced people. In this way he ministered both to members 
of the congregation and to people not associated with the church. 
Because his theological preparation had not included training in that 
area he wished to have help in developing his skills. He presented his 
request to the Board of Education and they in turn made a recom- 
mendation to the Board of Deacons. Mary Cochran had chaired a 
committee "to explore questions about granting pay and allowances 
during the leave and plans for covering Mel's responsibilities during 
the leave." At the meeting of the deacons on July 12, 1975, Mrs. Coch- 
ran presented the report which recommended a six-months leave with 
full salary and allowances. The committee also recommended that 
"approval of the leave and pay and allowances be placed before the 
full congregation in Church Conference." The deacons approved the 
recommendation for the leave. The minutes do not report the discus- 
sion that took place, but for some reason they decided against the 
recommendation that the matter be taken before the church in confer- 
ence. Instead they passed a motion "that the issue not be taken to the 


Congregation for a vote, but that a full and detailed report be mailed 
to the church membership." In a letter dated July 30, 1975, the con- 
gregation was notified of the action. 

In another major action the deacons began in 1976 a study of the 
church's organizational structure. From time to time various deacons 
had commented on the need for such a study. Finally, on November 7, 

1976, they appointed a task force "to study in depth the organization 
of the church" and asked for a final report no later than March 6, 

1977. That report, which was not presented until April 3, found that 
"The Board and committee structure does not coincide with the 
budget structure, and some committees and boards have lack of conti- 
nuity and absence of memory of past events. Some committees are 
confused about their mission." It offered specific suggestions about 
how the organization should be revised. The proposals were circu- 
lated in writing to the congregation, written responses were invited, 
and a church conference for discussion of the proposals was held on 
December 11, 1977. After that discussion the deacons further consid- 
ered the ideas that came out in the meeting and made some revisions 
in the plan. 

After more than a year of discussion and of committee work the 
deacons presented their proposals to the church. In a conference held 
after the worship service on Sunday morning, April 30, 1978, the 
motion was made: 

That the proposed amendments to the church constitution and by laws 
be adopted, effective October 1, 1978; and that the Nominating Com- 
mittee and Service Board, in establishing new committees and in adding 
to the membership of existing boards and committees, divide the nomi- 
nees for such new posts into equal classes of one, two or three year 

Most of the proposed amendments dealt with the problems of incon- 
sistency between community structure and budget structure and with 
clarification of responsibilities. One changed the church calendar so 
that the church year would begin on July 1 rather than on October 1. 
The most significant change was the creation of a Church Council 
composed of certain committe chairmen and church officers which 
would help coordinate the activities of the church. In addition, the 
Council would be responsible for making the nominations which 
thus far has been made by the Service Board. After full discussion, the 
motion was passed as presented. 

The revision of the organizational structure did not affect the 
responsibilities of the Minister or of the Associate Minister. It did not, 
therefore, deal with a problem that was in the offing. After his return 
from his sabbatical, in July, 1976, Mel Williams had resumed and 
expanded the work that he had been doing earlier. He began to feel, 


however, that the responsibilities assigned him within the church 
structure were unduly limiting for him. He had hinted at that feeling 
even before he had taken his sabbatical. On September 12, 1976, he 
had concluded his remarks in the deacons' meeting "with the observa- 
tion that he felt a need to re-examine the organizational structure of 
the church." That statement was a part of the discussion which had 
led to the creation of the task force on the church organization. His 
growing concern, however, seems not to have been so much a rrratter 
of constitutional statements as it was one of personal relationships. 
Increasingly he came to feel that he was not being given the oppor- 
tunity to exercise his ministry at Pullen to the best of his abilities. 

At last Williams concluded that he needed to get official reaction to 
his concern for his status at Pullen and for his future there. The min- 
utes of a called meeting of the deacons on August 27, 1978, state: 

Board of deacons met in a called session at the request of our associate 
minister, Mel Williams. In an opening statement, he asked for support 
while he shared with us his process of deciding to continue to minister 
at Pullen. The terms under which he would remain are as follows: to be 
able to preach on a regularly planned basis, to be able to participate in 
the design of the 11 a.m. worship service on a regular basis, and to 
increase his leadership of lay ministry in our church. 

The minutes are brief, but the session was long, lasting from 7:30 
until 10:40. Williams' request was understood by everyone to deal 
with matters which Finlator saw to be under his jurisdiction. Wil- 
liams desired a pastoral relationship that might be described as one of 
"collegiality," while Finlator preferred the maintenance of the "Asso- 
ciate Minister" status in which Williams had come to Pullen. After 
the lengthy and sometimes heated discussion, the board drew up the 
following resolution, which it addressed to both Williams and Fin- 

The Board wishes to convey to both ministers a rededication of itself 
to its part in this church's expanding ministry. 

The Board of Deacons resolves its support for an expanding role for 
Mel Williams with such responsibilities to be more clearly identified. 

At the same time we appreciate and support Bill Finlator's continued 
dedication to his calling and his expressed dedication to reach mutual 
agreement on their respective roles. 

We recognize that precise delineation of duties is not easily achieved 
and that frequent review is needed. 

Therefore, the Board of Deacons, mindful of their mutual efforts, 
respectfully requests the ministers to share their progress with the 
Chairman of the Board prior to the next meeting of the Board, toward a 
plan for sharing the ministerial duties of the church including the pul- 
pit ministry. 

The Pullen Board feels that this church is most fortunate and thank- 
ful to have two men of such caliber ministering to its needs. We appeal 


to their understanding of our support and express our confident expec- 
tation of their contribution in a fruitful ministry together in Pullen 
Memorial Baptist Church. 

The ministers did attempt to work out an agreement. On August 31, 
Williams addressed a note to the Board of Deacons in which he said: 

Since the meeting last Sunday I have sensed an openness from Bill con- 
cerning my desire for larger responsibilities. Our conversations have 
been honest, and I am grateful to the Deacons for helping to facilitate 
this development. 

Specifically, I am grateful for Bill's willingness to include me in the 
process of designing worship, and I appreciate his granting me advance 
notice of the times I am to preach. 

Finlator's response, dated September 1, included the statement: 

Mel and I have been in several conferences since last Sunday and, as I 
assured the Board, we have worked through the considerations and 
recommendations he brought to the Board. He knows that he is wel- 
come to share in the preparation of the worship service, that he will 
bring unique enrichment in his contributions to such preparation. I 
have invited him to name such Sundays and occasions as will be most 
significant and meaningful to him for preaching assignments and these 
dates have been calendared. He runs a crowded schedule in our church 
and wishes to confine his preaching appointments to some 12 or 14 
times during the year. 

In Pullenews for October 4, 1978, however, the following statement 
from both ministers appeared: 

While the church constitution holds the senior minister ultimately 
responsible as administrative head and names him ex officio member of 
all committees and Boards, we wish to advise the congregation of a 
current division of special assignments during the new church year 
beginning October 1 to the end that each of us may make' the best use of 
time and involvement. 

Mel will work more closely with the Board of Education (which 
includes the church school and youth groups) and with the Committee 
on Community Concerns, the Family Life Committee, the Nursery 
Committee and, in addition, he will supervise the work with seminary 

Bill will work more closely with the Business Board, the Board of Trus- 
tees, the Area Ministry Committee, the Building and Grounds Commit- 
tee, the Funeral, Music, the Esthetics, the Library and the Ushers 

Both ministers will continue their responsibilities in pastoral care and 
counseling, in worship services and with the Board of Deacons. 

Another matter which some members of the congregation perceived 
as a need had not been addressed by the revisions in the constitution. 


There was a personnel committee which dealt with personnel and 
administrative policies in the day-to-day operation of the church. At 
the deacons' retreat held on November 11, 1978, the chairman reported 
that he had appointed a special committee whose duties would be to: 

1) Write job descriptions for all staff except the ministers 

2) Formulate policy for sick leave, vacations, maternity leave, and the 
retirement for each staff member 

3) Recommend to the Board of Deacons a general range of benefits 
appropriate to each staff member. 

After considerable discussion it was moved that "we establish a Per- 
sonnel Committee as a standing advisory committee to the Board of 
Deacons." The duties of that committee were to be identical with 
those stated by the chairman except that in item 1) the phrase "except 
the ministers" was omitted. The minutes note that "After further dis- 
cussion, it was decided that the description of the standing committee 
needed further development and Bob Savage agreed to do this before 
the next meeting." The following statement was approved at the met- 
ing of December 3, 1978: 

The duties of the Personnel Committee shall be consistent with the 
church constitution and involve the following matters: 

1. Write and periodically revise a description of responsiblity of all 
staff members. 

2. Formulate a policy for sick leave, vacations, retirement, and 
maternity leave for each staff position. 

3. Recommend to the Board of Deacons a general range of benefits 
appropriate to each staff position. 

4. Recommend to the Board of Deacons a starting salary for any 
prospective staff member being considered for employment by the 

5. Periodically the committee shall review items 1 through 4 above 
and make recommendations for changes as needed. 

6. Be available to the ministers for counsel and keep them advised 
concerning conditions within the congregation as they affect relations 
between ministers and people. 

7. Be available to help resolve personnel problems which may arise. 

This committee was to function as an advisory committee to the Board 
of Deacons, not as a committee of the church. 

Before the committee could get well-started on its task another con- 
troversy arose over an action taken by the minister in his capacity as 
chairman of the Advisory Committee on Civil Rights. By the time the 
last United States ground troops had left Vietnam in 1972, criticism of 
Finlator for his stand had ceased. Meanwhile, Finlator was making 
the news on other controversial issues. In an April 8, 1973, "Point of 
View" article in the News and Observer he observed that "Sen. (Sam) 
Ervin's amiable purpose prose is often more picturesque than accu- 
rate." He was one of several ministers interviewed for an article on the 


integration in the Raleigh churches, published in the News and 
Observer on May 27, 1973. The week after Billy Graham's "Central 
Carolina Crusade" in Raleigh, he was quoted as saying that the cru- 
sade "was not really a live matter" of concern. On November 10, 1974, 
in another "Point of View" article, he said that President Ford's stand 
on amnesty for the Vietnam war resisters and evaders "perpetuates the 
Vietnam trauma." On October 26, 1975, in another "Point of View" 
article he talked of North Carolina's anti-union stance. He wrote on 
the Christian academies, on Christian economics, on the Far Right, 
on the use of "code words." He frequently made the news for his 
activities with the American Civil Liberties Union and for his work 
with the United States Commission on Civil Rights. Whenever he 
spoke as a representative of either of these latter groups he tried to 
make it clear that it was in that capacity that he was acting. Yet 
almost invariably the news articles identified him as pastor of Pullen 
Memorial Baptist Church. 

Against this background of constantly speaking to controversial 
issues, and of close involvement in the work of the American Civil 
Liberties Union and the President's Commission on Civil Rights, 
Finlator's telegram to President Carter urging the cut-off of funds for 
the University of North Carolina should have come as a surprise to no 
one. Since 1970 the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare 
had been in constant communication with the officials of the Univer- 
sity, pressuring them to eliminate all traces of segregation from the 
system. The case had been brought before HEW by the NAACP Legal 
Defense and Education Fund. The chief areas of concern were the 
proportion of blacks and whites in the student bodies and in the 
faculties of the various institutions, the limited programs and course 
offerings in the traditionally black institutions, and the relatively 
inadequate facilities of the traditionally black institutions. Several 
times it appeared that HEW and the University were about to come to 
terms. Always, however, something interfered with a settlement. Early 
in 1979 HEW was under a court order either to approve the University 
desegregation plan by March 14 or to cut off federal money to the 
University. HEW officials visited the campuses of the University sys- 
tem in February and were not satisfied with the steps that had been 
taken. HEW officials proposed additional actions for the University, 
and the University made counter-proposals. HEW rejected the Uni- 
versity offer, but did not announce a decision about the cut-off of 

Nine days after the deadline had passed without any HEW action, 
on March 23, 1979, in his capacity as Chairman of the North Carolina 
Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Finla- 
tor sent the following telegram to President Jimmy Carter: 


In the spirit of your State of the Union statement that you "take no 
obligation . . . more seriously than that of striving to secure full civil 
rights and equal opportunities for all Americans," you are urgently 
requested to take administrative action to end illegal separation in 
higher education. The North Carolina Advisory Committee is deeply 
concerned that high regard for and strict compliance with Federal law 
shall prevail in our state. 

North Carolina officials have failed to meet the latest deadline (March 
14) for submitting to the Department of Health, Education and Welfare 
an acceptable plan to desegregate the State's institutions of higher edu- 
cation and to increase resources available to North Carolina's histori- 
cally black colleges. 

As Chairman of the Advisory Committee, I therefore request that you 
direct Secretary Califano to comply with outstanding Federal court 
orders requiring effective enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights 
Act of 1964 by the Department, and that you specifically direct Secretary 
Califano to initiate immediately administrative proceedings that will, 
absent compliance, terminate Federal funds for distribution to continue 
in North Carolina, and all the states, segregation and racial discrimina- 
tion against minorities in the higher education system. 

On March 26, 1979, Califano took steps to cut off federal funds. The 
University then went into the courts to block the cutoff. The issue was 
not finally settled until an agreement was signed on July 2, 1981. 

Although the press paid little attention to Finlator's telegram to the 
President, merely reporting it on March 24 and saying little else about 
it, the matter created a furor within the church. A number of members 
of the congregation were associated with North Carolina State Uni- 
versity; nearly all of them were committed to the objectives of dese- 
gregation; and some of them had indeed been hard at work to rectify 
such problems as existed at State. Some of the congregation were dis- 
tressed by the telegram; some approved of it; and some simply 
regarded it as another expression of Finlator's commitment to the 
work of the Advisory Committee. Many people wrote to Finlator and 
to the Board of Deacons about the matter. Many writers were either 
distressed or indignant, and many others were supportive of Finlator. 
One person notified the Chairman of the Business Board that he was 
withdrawing financial support from the church, and another resigned 
from the Board of Deacons. 

At their meeting on April 1, 1979, the deacons discussed the matter 
at length and at times with considerable heat. One motion which had 
a great deal of support, but which was defeated, proposed a letter to 
the News and Observer disavowing Finlator's views but supporting 
his effort "to invoke Christian principles into the policies and prac- 
tices of our society." Finally the deacons passed a motion made by 
Finlator "that he and Bob Savage will sign a brief statment in the 
Pullen News, inviting church members who are concerned to come to 


the church parlor on a Sunday afternoon to talk." That statement was 
published in Pullenews for April 4, 1979, inviting concerned persons 
to a session to be held at 2:30 on Sunday afternoon, April 22. Some 
forty to fifty people attended the meeting. 

At the next deacons' meeting the chairman reported on the discus- 
sion. The board then authorized a committee to draw up a statement 
to be presented to the church. The following statement was prepared, 
approved by the deacons on May 13, and on May 14 sent to the 
members of the congregation: 

The Board of Deacons has engaged our minister in three prolonged, 
sometimes heated, discussions relative to the relationships between the 
minister and members of the church. Members of the Board have 
expressed their views to him about the effects of such public statements 
as his recent telegram to the President and have attempted to convey to 
him the views that you have shared with us. We assure you that to our 
knowledge, all matters of concern to you, to us, and to Bill Finlator, 
which have grown out of this issue, were fully and openly discussed and 
considered by the Board. 

Our minister, Bill Finlator, is acutely aware of the deep concern and 
feelings of hurt and frustration that some of you, and us, are experienc- 
ing. He has expressed to the Board of Deacons a sincere desire to effect 
reconciliation. He proposes to do this by seeking conversations with 
those individuals who are troubled and apprehensive. He pledges to 
listen to you and to respond to you as part of the effort to deal with 
your concerns. 

Even though there remain strong differences of opinion among the 
Board members themselves, we recognize that the future ministry of 
Pullen depends upon a reconciled church — a church with heart and 
spirit to work out its differences in Christian charity. Let us join 
together with Bill Finlator in his endeavors to reach this reconciliation. 
The Board of Deacons pledge their continued concentration on these 
areas of concern. We therefore call upon our members to join us in this 
constructive first step in a mission of growing together in Christ. We 
must do this so that we might minister to one another and the com- 
munity at large. 

Both Finlator and the deacons were distressed at the alienation 
between the pastor and some members of the congregation, and both 
were deeply concerned that the problem be resolved. At no point did 
the deacons suggest any attempt to restrict the freedom of the minister 
to speak, either from the pulpit or as a private individual or even in 
his capacity as an official of the Advisory Committee. At no point did 
Finlator indicate that he thought that the church or the deacons were 
infringing on his right to speak. Yet feelings had run high and at 
times intemperate expressions had deepend the division. The minister 
and the deacons made the conciliatory efforts indicated in the state- 
ment of May 14, and those efforts were met with some success. A 
complete reconciliation between all parties, however, was not to be. 


The work of the church went on, however. Finlator preached the 
same kind of sermons, with their social emphasis, that he had been 
preaching in the past several years. The worship services, with some 
decline in attendance, continued to be meaningful to the participants. 
The Boards and Committees functioned as usual. The educational 
program followed its normal procedure. And the church took steps to 
enhance its work and worship and to function more effectively as a 

One major step was the installation of a new organ in the sanctu- 
ary. In the late 1970's it became apparent that the old organ was going 
to have to be replaced. Maintenance became expensive, and there was 
some suggestion that an effort to secure a new one should be made 
even before the debt on the building had been paid off. By 1979 the 
situation had become critical. At their meeting on April 1, 1979, the 
deacons heard a report from the music committee which indicated 
that the repair of the old organ would be prohibitively expensive and 
that the committee was getting information on the cost of a new one. 

On July 1 Bob Petters, chairman of the Music Committee, was back 
with a request that the board approve a drive to obtain funds for a 
new organ. "The committee reported that the business board had 
approved its plan to approach the church for a commitment not to 
exceed $100,000 to purchase and install a new organ." The deacons 
approved the recommendations and appointed a committee to plan 
the presentation to the church. In a letter to the congregation dated 
August 20, 1979, the Chairman of the Board of Deacons announced a 
church conference to be held on September 9, at which time the 
church would be asked to approve a recommendation for the purchase 
of the new organ. The recommendation from the Organ Committee, 
endorsed by the Board of Deacons, stated: 

The Organ Committee recommends the purchase of a new pipe organ 
from the Austin Organ Company at a cost of between $95,000 and 
100,000. Included are installation costs and the removal of the present 
organ. If pledges received exceed $100,000, it will be possible to add 
more ranks (sets) of pipes to the new organ. 

The old organ, which has been installed in 1951, had had "an exper- 
imental electric action (which has proven to be mechanically defec- 
tive)" and had "deteriorated through the years." The cost of rebuild- 
ing the old organ would exceed $60,000 and if it were rebuilt the 
"inherent mechanical and musical problems would still exist." 
According to Pullenews for September 13, 1979, 

By strong affirmative vote the church in conference this past Sunday 
voted to purchase a new organ from the Austin Organ Company for 
$100,000. On Sunday, 61% of this amount was reported as "Intended 
pledges" by Leroy Martin, co-chairman of the Organ Campaign. A con- 
tract will be signed when at least 70% of the cost of the instrument has 
been pledged. 


Geraldine Cate 
Minister of Music 1944- 

Pullenews for October 3 announced that 70% of the cost had been 
received in cash and pledges, and that the contract had been signed. 
On October 7 the deacons approved a recommendation, brought from 
the music committee, that the organ be named in honor of Geraldine 
Cate "as a symbol of our love and respect, in appreciation for her 
long and distinguished service to Pullen Memorial Baptist Church 
and its music program." 

Construction of "The Geraldine Spink Cate Organ" was completed 
in May, 1981, and a service of dedication was held on May 31. During 
the summer two other dedication programs were presented by James 
Good of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and David 
Lynch of Meredith College. 

The price of the organ was $97,815. Necessary repairs and altera- 
tions to the building to accommodate the organ ran the total cost to 
$122,678. While the organ was being installed the church was com- 
pleting payment on its note for $115,000 which it had signed on 


November 29, 1976, to finance the completion of the building pro- 
gram. It was no small achievement for the church, therefore, to com- 
plete payment for the organ on September 1, 1981. 

Meanwhile the Personnel Committee which had been appointed as 
an advisory committee to the deacons had been working at its as- 
signed responsibilities. Its task was complicated by the controversy 
over Finlator's telegram. It was further complicated by speculation as 
to when Finlator might retire and by efforts to persuade him to 
announce his retirement plans. In a progress report dated April 30, 
1979, the chairman of the Personnel Committee stated, "the commit- 
tee unanimously recommends to the Board of Deacons retirement at 
age sixty-five for full-time employees subject to annual negotiation 
and approval for extension until age seventy, at which time retire- 
ment will be mandatory." 

On May 6, 1979, the deacons discussed "the church's retirement pol- 
icy, or lack of retirement policy." The chairman indicated that the 
Personnel Committee was considering the issue and would be submit- 
ting a statement for discussion. On November 4, 1979, however, the 
deacons received notice that the committee had not been able to agree 
on a proposal. The board requested the committee to continue its 
work and to make at least a status report in December. 

In November, 1979, the committee mailed a copy of its status report 
to each deacon, and the board held a called meeting on December 16 
to discuss it. Staff members had also received copies and had been 
invited to respond. At the meeting the deacons heard responses from 
W. W. Finlator and Geraldine Cate, both of whom were nearing 
retirement age. At the next meeting a response from Betsy Wooden, 
who was also approaching retirement age, was read. After further dis- 
cussion it was agreed that the deacons would be divided into "task 
forces" to work on each section of the report. Two "Pullen Town 
Meetings" had been called for discussion of the future of the church, 
and the report of the Personnel Committee became involved in those 
discussions. The Personnel Committee, with one change in member- 
ship, continued to work in cooperation with the deacons' task forces. 
At last the committee submitted its final report and the deacons spent 
a long session on May 4, 1980, working on a draft of personnel poli- 
cies to be recommended to the church. Copies were mailed to the 
church members for their study in advance of a congregational meet- 
ing on June 8, at which action was to be taken. 

Action on the proposed policies required two congregational meet- 
ings rather than one. Meeting on June 8 and June 22, 1980, the 
church approved a long document on "Personnel Policies." One part 
of the document authorized the establishment of a Personnel Board 


shall concern itself with the overall administration of the personnel 
policies, which apply to all employees. The Personnel Board shall be 
responsible for recommending to the Board of Deacons changes and/or 
revisions in policy, and the Board of Deacons will in turn recommend 
changes to the congregation. The Personnel Board shall also be respon- 
sible for facilitating good relationships between employees and the 

The document also spelled out in quite general terms a "Work sched- 
ule for ministers," and in more specific terms a work schedule for 
other staff members. It specified holidays, vacations and leave, sick 
leave, retirement and disability plan, and salary administration and 
reimbursements. Two sections of the document evoked a great deal of 
discussion. The one was the requirement that the Personnel Board 

review with each staff member at least once a year, the employee's per- 
formance in relation to the duties and specific goals as set forth in 
his/her contract and up-dated by mutual consent between the church 
and the employee. The Personnel Board shall make a written report to 
the Board of Deacons. 

The other was the statement: 

Normal retirement for full-time staff will be at the end of the church 
program year in which the employee's 65th birthday occurs. However, 
by mutual consent of employee and church, employment after 65 is 
permissible. Mandatory retirement will be at the end of the church pro- 
gram year (June 30) in which the employee's 70th birthday occurs. 

Although Finlator was already past 65, and although a significant 
number of people were trying to get him to make his retirement plans 
known, setting a policy on retirement was not an effort to force him 
out. The deacons had made that clear in their action on May 4 in 
which they passed a motion "that employees over 65 be exempted 
from these policies." They were trying to deal with the matter of a 
permanent policy as a separate issue from Finlator's retirement. 

In the aftermath of the controversy over Finlator's telegram to the 
President, and in the midst of the efforts to establish a personnel pol- 
icy, three things happened in rapid succession that affected the 
church. They were not the result of the controversy, but they added to 
the total picture. First, Mel Williams resigned to take a position as 
pastor of the Oakhurst Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia. His letter 
of resignation, dated December 2, 1979, was addressed to the Board of 
Deacons and to the congregation of Pullen Memorial Church. At 
their meeting on December 2 the deacons approved the following 
statement which was then published in Pullenews for December 12, 

Without prior knowledge or preparation for responding officially to 
Mel Williams' resignation, it is difficult to articulate coherently all the 
emotional and logical factors appropriate to moving acceptance. We do 
so, however, with the heartiest support for his future work. We do so 


sadly in the prospect of losing him but gladly in thanksgiving for a 
decade of service to this church as a musician, preacher, educator, and 

He has been a minister and close personal friend to many of us. He has 
introduced a new love and warmth to Pullen which had not been exhib- 
ited previously. He now makes a courageous decision to launch into a 
new phase of life. It is not only our duty to support him but to send 
him forth with our prayers and greatest foundation strength this church 
can provide. 

We therefore recommend that the congregation accept the resignation 
of Mel Williams, effective January 2, 1980, and send him to Oakhurst 
Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia, with our warmest support and 
prayers for God's greatest blessings on his future efforts. He has been 
one of us ancUwill always remain so. 

With the following letter, dated December 5, 1979, the chairman of 
the Board of Deacons notified the congregation of Williams' resig- 

At the monthly meeting of the Board of Deacons last Sunday evening 
the Rev. T. Melvin Williams submitted his resignation as our Associate 
Minister. Enclosed is a copy of his letter of resignation, which has been 
accepted on behalf of the church by the Board of Deacons. We are sad- 
dened by Mel's impending departure, but we send him forth with the 
assurance of the abundant love of Pullen people and with our prayers 
that the peace of God may be upon him, 

That same issue of Pullenews carried also the motion which the 
church adopted on December 9: 

I would like to move that the congregation accept Mel Williams' resig- 
nation with the greatest regret and with even greater love and under- 
standing. I would also like to move that this church pledge Mel its 
continued support, as his wonderful and inspired ministry reaches out 
to touch new lives and eagerly greets a new set of challenges. 

Following his last morning worship service at Pullen, Williams 
was honored at a farewell dinner given by the church. The deacons, 
noting his "ceaseless activity" at Pullen, invited him to sit in a large, 
comfortable leather chair being given him, while he listened to words 
of appreciation from many members of the church. He was presented 
with a book of photographs representative of his work, and a number 
of people presented individual gifts. 

The second event was an article about W. W. Finlator which 
appeared in the Christian Century for January 30, 1980. Written by 
Bill Finger, the article chronicled Finlator's social activism and 
focused on the controversy arising frm the UNC-HEW matter. Finger 


Combining southern graciousness with an outspoken social conscience 
requires an unusual talent. And retaining the good graces of a congre- 
gation in the conservative Southern Baptist tradition demands an 
instinct for survival. For 42 years now, W. W. Finlator has combined 
such talents and instincts. 

After giving a brief account of Finlator's religious and educational 
background and a summary of his career before he came to Pullen, 
Finger summarized some of Finlator's controversial activities: 

Finlator has needed all the resources he could muster for this Raleigh 
ministry. During the civil rights protests, he spoke out for equal rights. 
He preached against the Vietnam war, when opposing it was an 
unpopular stance even in secular circles. He became an early supporter 
of the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union, serving as a lobbyist in the 
state's General Assembly and a watchdog for First Amendment rights. 
He's stood side by side with Angela Davis calling for a pardon for Ben 
Chavis and the Wilmington Ten. 

In explaining Finlator's relationship to the congregation, Finger 
quoted Mel Williams: 

"Pullen is a diverse congregation," notes Mel Williams, the associate 
pastor. "Most of the longtime members have supported Bill's right to 
say what he wants, even if they disagree. Over the years, they have had 
their grievances, and this was the last straw. It's the toughest battle he's 

Finger concluded his article with a paragraph that prompted a 
response from the deacons. He said, near the end of the article: 

For the first time in his 42-year ministry, Finlator may in fact have 
gotten "too involved." Prompted by the telegram to President Carter 
and a congregational airing of grievances that followed, the church has 
formed a personnel committee to look at the current situation. 

At their meeting on March 9, 1980, one of the deacons called atten- 
tion to errors in the Christian Century article. At the request of the 
deacons, the chairman addressed the following letter, dated March 10, 
1980, to the editor: 

In the cover story of the January 30, 1980, issue, "W. W. Finlator: 
"Risk-Taker," by Bill Finger, there is an error which needs to be cor- 
rected. Regarding Mr. Finlator's relationship with his congregation Mr. 
Finger wrote: "Prompted by the telegram to President Carter and a 
congregational airing of grievances that followed, the church has 
formed a personnel committee to look at the present staff situation." 

On December 3, 1978, the Board of Deacons of the Pullen Memorial 
Baptist Church appointed a personnel committee to study such matters 
as employment policies, retirement and job descriptions for all staff 
positions. Eventually recommendatons growing out of this study will 
be presented to the congregation. 

It was several months later in 1979 when the controversy arose over Mr. 
Finlator's telegram to President Carter. Consequently, Mr. Finger erred 


in stating that the personnel committee was appointed as the result of 
the controversy; it had been assigned specific duties growing out of 
wholly different circumstances. (Christian Century, 4/9/80) 

The third event was the retirement of Betsy Wooden from her posi- 
tion as church secretary. Her letter is not found in the records, but the 
minutes of the deacons, dated April 27, 1980, state: 

Bill Finlator read the resignation, effective June 1, of Betsy Wooden 
who has served the church for 32 years. Bill stated that he wanted to go 
on record as saying that he "honors this wonderful woman and does 
not look forward to the future here without her." Bill urged the Board 
to see that the church show its appreciation to Betsy Wooden. 

The deacons adopted the following resolution: 

Whereas she has served faithfully as secretary at Pullen Memorial Bap- 
tist Church for thirty-two years, and has, in addition to discharging her 
regular duties, gone far beyond what was required of her to be friend, 
advisor, confidante, resource person, and counselor to countless num- 
bers of people, and whereas her daily presence has for years exemplifed 
the heart of this church. 

Be it hereby resolved that the Board of Deacons, on behalf of Pullen 
Memorial Baptist Church, offer this expression of love, gratitude, sup- 
port, and affection to Betsy Wooden as she begins a new phase of her 

Betsy Wooden 
Church Secretary 1948-1980 


Betsy Wooden had grown up in Pullen Church. Her parents had 
joined the church while it was still located on Fayetteville Street, and 
she had attended Sunday school and worship services there. She had 
known both Jack Ellis and Lee Sheppard as pastor. She had begun 
her work as secretary at Pullen late in 1948, at just about the same 
time that McNeill Poteat returned for his second pastorate. Over the 
years her responsibilities had expanded and in addition to the usual 
secretarial duties she did a great deal of the administrative work of the 
church. Because she was a long-time member of the congregation, and 
because she knew the membership well, she could do many things for 
the church which do not normally fall into the job description of a 
church secretary. Her long years of service to the church were cele- 
brated by a reception following the morning worship service at which 
she was honored with tributes, songs, and a significant gift. 

In light of their uncertainty as to how long Finlator might remain 
as pastor, the Board of Education and the Board of Deacons decided 
that the church should not seek a permanent Minister of Education 
but rather should employ someone on an interim basis. Sue McDaniel 
accepted that responsibility and began her work in May, 1980. She 
was a graduate of Meredith College and of Southeastern Baptist Theo- 
logical Seminary. She had worked as a nursery school teacher and as 
an assistant to the Baptist chaplain at North Carolina State. She had 
been a member of Pullen since 1972, when she moved to Raleigh with 
her husband who was joining the faculty at N.C. State. 

McDaniel had not been ordained when she began her work at 
Pullen, and after six months on the job she requested ordination. 
After the appropriate steps had been taken and the church had 
approved, her ordination service was set for September 13, 1981. The 
minutes of the deacons' meeting on July 12, 1981, state: 

Sept. 13 has been selected for the ordination of Sue McDaniel, Minister 
of Education. The ordination sermon will be preached by Dr. Dale 
Moody, father of Sue McDaniel and faculty member at Southern Semi- 
nary in Louisville, Kentucky. Sue McDaniel requested that the new dea- 
cons who need ordination — Phil Letsinger, Pat Levi, Betty Moore, and 
Paige Robinson — be ordained in the same service on September 13. Her 
purpose is to illustrate the idea that the church consists of many 
members who are all equal though called to different tasks. 

Although the minutes give no reasons, the deacons were not entirely 
sure that McDaniel's request was appropriate. After much discussion 
they finally enunciated three possibilities: (1) Follow McDaniel's 
request. (2) Have two separate services on the same day. (3) Have two 
separate services on different days. They left it to the pastor to decide! 
At the next meeting Finlator announced that he had opted to follow 
McDaniel's request and that she and the new deacons would be 
ordained in the same service. 


Sue McDaniel 
Minister of Education 1980-1982 

The minutes for the deacons' meetings throughout McDaniel's 
ministry reveal her regular involvement in the meetings, with reports 
both on the educational work and on pastoral concerns. On October 
3, 1982, after a total of a little more than two years on the job, and 
some three months after Finlator's retirement, she announced to the 
Board of Education and to the Personnel Board "her intention to 
resign, because of health and family reasons, effective October 21, 
1982." She agreed to continue on a part-time basis for several weeks if 
she were needed, and served until mid-December. 

Meanwhile, Bill Finlator had come under pressure from some 
members of the congregation to announce his plans for retirement. 
Bill Finger was correct when he stated in his Christian Century article 
that "For the first time in his 42-year ministry, Finlator may in fact 
have gotten 'too involved.'" Although there had been no effort to fire 
him during the furor over the UNC-HEW situation, many people had 
begun to speculate about his retirement date. In spite of the fact that 
current staff personnel who were already 65 were exempted from the 
retirement policy adopted by the church in June, 1980, some people 
thought that the action might influence him to decide to retire 
shortly. Finlator, on the other hand, insisted that the decision about 
when he would retire should be his to make. He refused to discuss the 
matter either with those who were pressuring him to retire or with 
those who wanted him to stay as long as he chose to do so. 

The issue of Finlator's retirement was formally raised in the meet- 
ing of the deacons on April 13, 1980. The deacons were presented with 


a proposed course of action designed to help the church achieve cer- 
tain goals. Three items in the six-point proposal stated: 

2. Ask the present minister to step down as Senior Minister no later 
than June, 1981, in order to make way for a new full-time staff 

3. Begin the search for a person for the position of minister whose 
responsibilites would include those now being performed by the 
Senior Minister — worship planning, visitation, preaching. In addi- 
tion this person would also help the laity plan and carry out an 
effective total program of outreach and nurture. 

4. Offer the present minister the option to remain connected to Pullen 
Memorial Church if he so desires, not in an administrative or 
decision-making capacity, but as minister-at-large or Emeritus, with 
certain specified responsibilities and with an agreed-upon stipend to 
supplement other income he may have. 

Although there was considerable discussion, the proposal was not 
voted upon. Instead, the deacons authorized the chairman to appoint 
a small committee "to meet with the minister to talk with him con- 
cerning his retirement and all issues of retirement." At the next meet- 
ing, on April 27, the chairman reported that he and two other deacons 
had discussed the matter with Finlator. 

They quoted Bill Finlator's statements that he had thought of retiring 
before the age of 70, which would be June, 1983; that more recently he 
had thought of retiring after 25 years at Pullen (August or September, 
1981); that he desires no emeritus status; that he will be willing to step 
down at any time that he felt it would be in the best interest of the 
church; and that a long-range retirement policy probably would be a 
good thing. 

Bill Finlator was asked to comment, and he thanked the committee for 
the sensitive way they conducted the meeting and carried cut their diffi- 
cult assignment. He stated that he will retire when he believes the time 
to be right, and that could be in six months or three years or anytime in 
between. He asked that he be allowed to make the decision on when to 

There was some sentiment on the board to elect a committee to dis- 
cuss the matter further with the minister, but a motion to that effect 
was not carried. 

The issue, however, would not die. At their meeting on June 1, by a 
divided vote the deacons passed a motion 

that the committee that was appointed to discuss retirement with the 
minister meet with him again to set a definite date for this retirement, 
to be on or before August 31, 1981, and that the committee attempt to 
receive a voluntary statement of retirement in writing, but if this is not 
possible that the date of August 31, 1981 be the retirement date recom- 
mended to the congregation by the Board, and that the committee pre- 
sent its report to a called meeting of the Board of Deacons on June 15 at 
7:30 pm. 


With a recorder present a three-member committee met with Finlator 
on June 25, 1981. Finlator remained unwilling to do the one thing 
that the committee had been asked to try to get him to do — set a date 
for his retirement. At a called meeting of the deacons on June 29 the 
committee reported on the session and their failure. The deacons then 
adopted the following statement: 

WHEREAS, after more than a year of rigorous scrutiny of the needs, 
priorities, goals and possibilities of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, 
the Board of Deacons perceives the church to be at a critical point 
requiring knowledgeable, long-term planning, and 

WHEREAS, said planning must take into account the personnel 
requirements of the church in relationship to its membership and goals, 

WHEREAS, the minister of the church is currently serving in a pre- 
retirement position of indeterminate length, and 

WHEREAS, the Board of Deacons perceives that the declaration of a 
definite date of retirement would provide a tangible timeframe in which 
the church could work to effect the orderly transfer of the ministry of 
Pullen Memorial from one Senior Minister to another, and 

WHEREAS, having such a date would greatly facilitate the general 
understanding of church members and clear the air of seeming indeci- 
sion and lack of direction, and 

WHEREAS, the Board of Deacons deems it very appropriate that the 
church be able to demonstrate its belief in and capacity for a democratic 
resolution of such matters, and 

WHEREAS, the Board recognizes the profound and significant min- 
istry of W. W. Finlator at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, and 

WHEREAS, the Board desires that this ministry continue strongly, 
viably, and without abatement until an appropriate climactic point, 

WHEREAS, the 25th anniversary date of August, 1981, previously 
alluded to by the minister as a possible retirement target seems to be a 
propitious moment in which to celebrate the past twenty five years and 
to make a commitment to a new beginning, 

THEREFORE: The Board of Deacons directed that the Committee 
that was appointed to discuss retirement with the minister meet with 
him again to set a definite date for his retirement, to be on or before 
August 31, 1981, and that the Committee attempt to receive a voluntary 
statement of retirement in writing, but if this is not possible the date of 
August 31, 1981, be the retirement date recommended to the Congrega- 
tion by the Board and that the Committee present its report to a called 
meeting of the Board of Deacons on June 15, 1980. 

Again, the deacons were not unanimous in their approval of the 

On July 6 the deacons again struggled with the question of taking 
their recommendation to the church. The division on the board was 
still apparent, though the majority favored calling for congregational 
action. They voted "that a date in September, to be set by the staff and 


deacons by mutual consent, for consideration of the single issue of the 
minister's retirement and that it be held after the morning service." 

Pullenews for July 9, 1980, carried an "Update of Major Actions 
Taken by the Board of Deacons" which rehearsed the steps taken by 
the deacons and announced their intention to ask for congregational 
action in September. On August 5 a letter was sent to the congrega- 
tion announcing a "Town Meeting" for September 4 at which the 
board's resolution would be discussed, and a congregational meeting 
for September 28 at which action would be taken. After the appear- 
ance of Pullenews many members of the congregation wrote to the 
board, and more spoke to individual deacons. Within the congrega- 
tion there was strong opposition to the proposal as well as strong 
support for it. A petition calling upon the deacons to rescind their 
action was circulated among the congregation and was signed by 
more than 250 members of the church. The explanatory statement 
prefacing the petition rehearsed the steps which the deacons had 
taken, listed a number of points which the petitioners found trouble- 
some, and affirmed: 

Although the issue is now to be put before that large number of people 
by means of a church conference scheduled for September, the follow- 
ing people wish to assure the minister beforehand that we do not 
believe that the motion of June 1 and the resolution of June 29 deal 
with him fairly and honorably. We are deeply concerned about the feel- 
ing of our minister and his family. We are also concerned that Pullen 
Memorial Baptist Church continue to be known in the Christian com- 
munity and in the world at large as a champion of fair play and of 
religious liberty. We believe that recent events concerning the closing of 
Mr. Finlator's ministry are contrary to the spirit of this church. 

Citing reasons for their action, concluding with the statement that 
"we believe that the Board of Deacons has proceeded without under- 
standing the will of the majority of the congregation," the petition 

WE, THEREFORE, repudiate the resolution adopted by the Board of 
Deacons and strongly recommend a reconsideration of that action, 

WE, HEREBY, express our gratitude and loving support for the minis- 
ter whose integrity and courage shine as brightly today as in years 
gone by and whose service has brought lustrous distinction to this 

The matter became public, with many people outside the congrega- 
tion discussing it. Former members of the church wrote to the board, 
and some people who had no connection with the church wrote. The 
deacons were assured by many that they were doing the best thing, but 
found themselves having to defend their position to many other peo- 
ple. A real polarization was developing, with people choosing up 
sides in a way that they had never done before. A number of people 


wrote to the deacons to urge them to find a way of avoiding an open 
conflict. One such letter contained a sentence which stated what many 
people felt: "In the spirit of reconciliation, I urge you to take what- 
ever action and use whatever resources necessary to prevent further 
confrontation because the church will be the loser." 

The resolution of the difficulty came on Sunday, August 24, 1980. 
On that date, well before the congregational meeting planned for Sep- 
tember 28, Finlator announced his plans for retirement. He set the 
date as June 30, 1982, nearly a year later than the date set by the 
deacons and one year before he reached his 70th birthday. In an- 
nouncing his retirement date Finlator said, "In making this decision, 
I call upon the congregation, its leadership, committees and boards to 
join me in pledging our full mutual commitment in working together 
more abundantly toward achieving what St. Paul called the unity of 
the spirit in the bond of peace." After that announcement, the 
planned Town Meeting and Church conference were canceled. The 
matter of Finlator's retirement was settled. 

The idea for holding "town meetings" had first come up in the 
deacons' retreat which was held at Meredith on September 29, 1979. 
There had been some discussion of the need for better communication 
between the Board of Deacons and the congregation, and someone 
suggested the holding of "open forums or 'town hall' meetings on key 
topics of continuing concern." (Minutes, 10/7/79) At the meeting on 
November 4, 1979, the deacons passed a motion that 

the board of deacons sponsor a series of three town meetings in 1980. 
The meetings will provide a forum to discuss some of the issues raised 
at the deacons' retreat, among them, "What is the distinctive mission of 
Pullen Memorial Church?"; "Do our activities and actions demonstrate 
our commitment to what we say is our mission?"; and "In order to 
carry out our distinctive mission, what will be our goals for the next 
three, five, ten years?" 

The first town meeting was held on January 22, 1980, and was 
planned to allow discussion on any topic that the congregation 
wished. Approximately 100 people attended and a wide variety of sub- 
jects came under discussion. Most had to do with the unique nature of 
Pullen and the direction which Pullen should take in the future. Feel- 
ings were still running high about Finlator's telegram to the Presi- 
dent, and the report of the deacons' Personnel Committee was only 
two months old. While neither of those matters dominated the discus- 
sion, as indeed no one topic did, they were clearly in the thinking of 
many persons who spoke. The second town hall meeting was held on 
March 6, with comments and observations focusing on "the church as 
a nurturing, worshiping, serving, and educational community." The 


third town meting was announced for September 4, 1980, to discuss 
the deacons' proposal having to do with setting a retirement date for 
Finlator. As has been noted, that meeting was canceled after Finlator 
announced his retirement date. The next call for a town meeting came 
in the deacons' meeting on November 1, 1981, for the purpose of giv- 
ing some direction to the Ministerial Search Committee. By that time 
the idea of occasional town meetings called for the purpose of discuss- 
ing, without taking action, matters important to the life of the church 
seems to have become an accepted and expected practice at Pullen. 

The church celebrated Finlator's twenty-fifth anniversary at Pullen 
on Sunday, August 30, 1981. The deacons planned only a "mini- 
celebration" so as not to detract from "subsequent events to honor 
W. W. Finlator upon his retirement." The celebration consisted of a 
worship service in which Bill and Mary Lib Finlator sat with the 
congregation. They heard a sermon by Stewart A. Newman, emeritus 
professor of philosophy at Meredith College, in which Newman set 
Finlator within the context of a long history of prophetic preaching 
at Pullen. A reception after the service gave the opportunity for both 
congregation and visitors to speak personally to the Finlators. 

One reason for Finlator's reluctance to make an early announce- 
ment of his retirement plans was his fear that the time after his 
announcement would be a "lame duck" period. That in fact was what 
happened. He continued to conduct the worship services and to 
preach as he had been doing. For all practical purposes, however, 
after his announcement the church began to look beyond the time of 
his last Sunday. He did not actively participate in the discussions of 
the future of Pullen. He attended the meetings of the deacons and 
made the appropriate announcements and spoke of the work that was 
being done in the various organizations, but attempted to exercise no 
influence over decisions about long-range plans. Apparently he felt 
that it would be inappropiate for him to do so. For their part, the 
deacons did not feel the necessity of seeking his advice. The situation 
was at best awkward. 

Just prior to the effective date of his retirement, Finlator was 
honored at a service held at 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, May 23, 1982. The 
program included music by both the choir and the congregation. 
Statements of appreciation were delivered by former N.C.S.U. Chan- 
cellor John T. Caldwell; U.N.C. President William Friday; Bishop 
Joseph Gossman of the Catholic Diocese of Raleigh; Professor Daniel 
Pollitt, of the U.N.C. School of Law; Rev. O. L. Sherrill, Executive 
Secretary Emeritus of the General Baptist State Convention; 
Mr. Claude Sitton, Editor of the News and Observer; and President 
Ralph Scales of Wake Forest University. A portrait of Finlator was 
unveiled and placed in the recently re-named "Finlator Fellowship 


Hall. Finlator was presented with a book of letters of appreciation 
written by church members and by other friends throughout the coun- 
try. In describing the event, the News and Observer (5/24/82) said: 

The Rev. W. W. Finlator's last hurrah was laced with irony. The out- 
spoken liberal Baptist often has sparked controversy, but Sunday his 
friends agreed that his voice would be missed. 

Before a packed congregation at Raleigh's Pullen Memorial Baptist 
Church, about 800 people gathered to pay tribute to Finlator, the 
church's 69-year-old minister who will step down next month after 26 
years at the church. 

Finlator, a civil rights and anti-war activist and civil libertarian, lis- 
tened Sunday to ministers, educators, journalists and congregation 
members pay tribute to work he had done inside the church and out for 
more than two decades. . . . 

While his stands provoked criticism, Roman Catholic Bishop F. Joseph 
Gossman of Raleigh praised Finlator's career of bringing the church 
actively into social issues. . . . 

The Rev. O. L. Sherrill, executive secretary emeritus of the General 
Baptist State Convention, said Finlator had made life richer for ev- 
eryone because of his stand for civil rights. . . . 

William C. Friday, president of the University of North Carolina Sys- 
tem, also paid tribute to Finlator. Two years ago, Finlator set his own 
retirement to end an internal church split that was caused by a letter he 
had written to the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare 
saying funds should be cut off to the university system because it had 
failed to meet federal desegregation requirements. 

The letter upset some of the church's 700-member congregation, and 
Finlator announced plans to retire in two years to ease the friction. 

But Friday, a longtime friend of Finlator's, had nothing but praise for 
the retiring minister. Friday recalled that Finlator had given the invoca- 
tion when he was sworn in as UNC president 25 years ago. 

"Bill Finlator sent me on my way as a new administrator," Friday said. 
"All these years he has remained a faithful friend. 

"His wide-ranging views caused others to enjoin he should stick to his 
religion. To his everlasting credit, that is exactly what he has done." 

Similar words of praise came from Daniel Pollitt, UNC law professor; 
Dr. John T. Caldwell, former chancellor of N.C. State University; 
Dr. James R. Scales, president of Wake Forest University; and Claude 
Sitton, editorial director of the News and Observer and the Raleigh 

Amid the accolades, Finlator kept his sense of humor. Looking at the 
portrait, he said a member of the deacon's board had asked him if he 
wanted a photograph or a portrait. 

"I told him, 'How about a stained glass window?' " he said with a 


Because Finlator was so much in the news, and because his public 
stands on issues were so often controversial, other aspects of his min- 
istry have generally been overlooked. Yet he was thoroughly conscien- 
tious and genuine in his exercise of what might be called "pastoral 
duties." He made no effort to visit in the homes of all the members of 
the congregation, as do few modern ministers. But he regularly visited 
church members — and others — who were in the hospital, and he con- 
scientiously made himself available to people who were having crises 
of other sorts. Not trained as a counselor, and having no real interest 
in doing that kind of work, he nevertheless saw himself as a pastor 
and he genuinely cared for his people. He was at his best in funeral 
services, delivering messages that were appreciative of the person who 
had died and helpful to the family and friends. One member of the 
congregation who wrote a response to Finger's Christian Century 
article on Finltor, while voicing criticism of certain aspects of Finla- 
tor's ministry, nevertheless said, "The many of us who have received 
notes or visits from him would emphasize, in addition, the supportive 
role he plays in times of stress or crisis." (Christian Century, 4/2/80) 

Finlator was well known for the letters to which that church 
member referred. He wrote not only in times of crisis but also in times 
of achievement. He wrote to people about their bereavements, their 
sicknesses, their economic reverses, their family problems. He wrote to 
them about their marriages, about their becoming parents or grand- 
parents, about their publications, about their job promotions, about 
their public recognition for service, about their activities in the politi- 
cal arena. He wrote in appreciation of their participation in church 
activities and about their involvement in the causes of social and eco- 
nomic and political justice. 

Finlator's sermons were always timely, speaking to current issues 
and bringing the gospel to bear upon them. His involvement in con- 
troversial issues, and his speaking about them, has already been made 
abundantly clear. At the same time, many of his sermons were quite 
personal, and many of his stances were surprisingly traditional. 

As a text for his final sermon at Pullen, preached on June 20, 1982, 
Finlator used 2 Timothy 4:6-8: "For I am now ready to be offered, and 
the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have 
finished my course, I have kept the faith; Henceforth there is laid up 
for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, 
shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also 
that love his appearing." He called it an inappropriate passage for 
him to use, but based his reminiscences about his ministry at Pullen 
upon it. Mindful of the turbulence of the times, and of the fact that 
the church had never been placid and serene during his ministry, he 
spoke of the spirit of the church and of his own spirit: 


But I have not fought the good fight. True, I have often been in the 
fray, not often enough for my conscience, too often perhaps for some of 
you, and while I think there is no Sir Modred in me, I also know that 
there is too little of Sir Galahad. Many of you cheered me on and joined 
ranks with me. Some of you will say I have spoken when I might have 
been silent, silent when I should have spoken, some that I have often 
gone too far, and others have not quite forgiven me for backing down 
and moderating. And perhaps all of you might agree that at times I 
have reminded you of the knight errant who mounted his horse and 
rode off in all directions! All of this does not average up to fighting a 
good fight! 

But you, my Pullen people, have made it possible for me to enter into 
the lists and given me the strength to "say not the struggle nought 
availeth". Never once did you, as a church, tell me what to preach and 
what not to preach, what to engage and encounter, and what not to 
engage and encounter, and though many of you might have privately 
dissented, never once, as a church, have you penalized me or imposed 
economic sanctions. On the contrary, my salaries came every month and 
always without the freeze! I pay tribute to you for this! 

So, while it may not have been the good fight, it certainly has been an 
exhilirating one, and I would hate to have missed one moment of it. 
There is zest and a throb in trying really to hear the word of God, and 
translating it in the language of the day to well-intentioned friends who 
often really do not want to hear, are discomforted and threatened by 
hearing, and then taking the message beyond the sanctuary to the 
market places to confront the legalized securities that are at enmity with 
it. This can be painful and devastating to both the hearer and the bearer 
of the word. But then again, the zest and the throb! What a sadness to 
have missed this. 

John Carlton, professor of preaching at Southeastern Baptist Theo- 
logical Seminary, was chosen to serve as interim pastor following Fin- 
lator's retirement. Carlton was a graduate of Baylor University, at- 
tended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and received his M.Div. 
and Ph.D. from Duke University. He taught preaching at Duke Divin- 
ity School and at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary before join- 
ing the faculty at Southeastern. He had served as interim pastor in a 
number of churches both in Kentucky and in North Carolina. Early 
in his career in North Carolina he had been interim minister at 
Pullen following McNeill Poteat's death. 

Carlton began his ministry at Pullen on the first Sunday in July, 
1982, and continued through the last Sunday in July, 1983. His 
preaching at Pullen was for ,the most part focused on traditional bib- 
lical and theological themes. Typical sermon titles were "The Cost of 
a Word," "Who Do You Think You Are?" "On Examining Our- 
selves," "When Virtue becomes Vice," "Standing By the Best," "Holy 
Waste," "The Fellowship of His Suffering," and "Seekers and Posses- 
sions." The sermons were basically expository, with practical applica- 
tions. His illustrations were more from great literature than from the 


daily newspaper. His words were well-chosen, his diction polished. 
He represented classical, traditional preaching at its best. 

Although Carlton, during his year at Pullen, had primarily a 
responsibility for the morning worship service, he also involved him- 
self as much as possible in the pastoral ministry. He was particularly 
concerned with hospital visitation, and he was called upon for some 
other pastoral visitation as well. Upon a few occasions he was called 
upon for weddings and for funerals, and in both kinds of service he 
ministered effectively to the congregation. 

Pullenews for August 1, 1983, carried a comment on Carlton's last 
Sunday with Pullen: 

John Carlton Day, July 31st, was a great success. The congregation 
turned out in full force, the choir was in great voice, Martha Buchanan 
outdid herself and the sermon was one of John's best. Carter Williams 
was the liturgist and also presided very ably over the short ceremony at 
which John Carlton was made an Honorary Member of Pullen with all 
its rights and privileges. . . . Then "Nic" Nahikian presented John with 
a "Love Gift" from a number of his Pullen friends amounting to a little 
over $2,000. 

While Carlton was serving as interim minister H. M. "Nic" Nahik- 
ian was serving as interim administrator. The church had found it 
advisable to employ an interim administrator because Carlton could 
not take on that side of the work in addition to his full load at South- 
eastern, and neither the Minister of Education nor the church secre- 
tary could add those responsibilities to their already full load. Nahik- 
ian was a long-time member of the church who had served several 
terms on the Board of Deacons. He had also served the church for 
many years as Treasurer and was already familiar with much of the 
details of the daily operations. He was recently retired from his posi- 
tion in the department of mathematics at North Carolina State. 

Beginning some six months before Finlator's retirement, the Minis- 
terial Search Committee was hard at work on its assigned task of find- 
ing the person whom they would recommend to the church. The 
Committee had been organized in November, 1981, when the Chair- 
man of the Board of Deacons culminated nearly six months of work 
on his part in selecting a large committee that would be representative 
of the congregation at large. He presided over the first meeting, held 
on November 29, at which all ten members and all ten alternates were 
present, and in which John Steely was chosen chairman. 

The Ministerial Search Committee had two valuable pieces of mate- 
rial to help it determine what kind of person to look for. The first was 
a summary of a survey done by the Board of Deacons and the Church 
Council from May through September, 1981. Those two groups set 
out to talk to as many members of the church as possible. The focus 


for the interviews was five goals for the church which had been identi- 
fied by the Board of Deacons. The questions were open-ended and the 
responses were not of the sort that could be easily tabulated. They did, 
however, give a feel for the judgment of the congregation about the 
strengths and weaknesses of the church and about the direction which 
the church should take. The areas under consideration were worship, 
education, fellowship, service/witness, and support. This material 
was to help the Committee interpret the church to the persons being 
considered for the position of pastor. The interviews did not deal 
directly with the kind of minister which the congregation might 
want, but in most of the interviews that matter came up. The report, 
therefore, included a statement "Concerning the Pastoral Leader- 

The strongest signal from respondents concerning future pastoral prior- 
ities calls for attention to the program of the church — coordination of 
activities and providing leadership and boards through warmth, en- 
couragement, listening and negotiation. There also is evidence of 
strong support for a prophetic role for the minister, continuing the 
church's tradition as an advocate of human rights. Members also value 
the ability of a minister to be helpful in times of personal and family 
need. Respondents asked for a strong minister preacher who will call 
forth professions of faith from both adults and children. 

The second item which the Search Committee could use was the 
"Personnel Policies" documents as finally approved by the church in 
conference on June 22, 1980. That document had to do with the entire 
church staff, not with the minister only. Its statements about the work 
of the minister were of necessity rather general. It was quite precise, 
however, in specifying the responsibilities of the other staff persons 
who would be working under the supervision of the minister. It was 
also quite precise in spelling out benefits, in planning for perfor- 
mance assessment, and in procedure for job termination. 

The Ministerial Search Committee spent some time making their 
plans. They advertized the position nationally and prepared a ques- 
tionnaire to be sent to interested persons. They asked Mahan Siler, 
Director of the School of Pastoral Care at the Baptist Hospital in 
Winston-Salem, to meet with them as a consultant. More than a 
hundred persons either applied or were recommended for the posi- 
tion, and the committee gave careful consideration to each one. The 
chairman reported to the committee on June 6, 1982, that at that time 
he had corresponded with all but six of the candidates, providing each 
with a copy of the history of the church, a data sheet, three reference 
sheets, a copy of the job description, and a recent worship bulletin. 

At almost every meeting of the Board of Deacons there was some 
report from the committee. On April 10, 1983, according to the min- 
utes of the deacons: 


E. Johnson reported that the committee had decided on an individual 
and was negotiating with that person. He said the individual could not 
be identified as it would be damaging to his present situation. He 
hoped that an announcement could be made within a matter of weeks. 
The Search Committee had discussed a sequence of events and would 
provide written information to the congregation. About the same time 
there would be an opportunity for the deacons to meet with the Search 
Committee to receive information and to discuss the candidate. There 
would be an event on a Saturday at which time the congregation would 
meet the person and his family. The deacons would be invited to meet 
him the evening before. The next day the man would preach. There 
would be a called meeting of the congregation that night to vote on 
calling him. The election would be held and then the person would 
need to work out notice before leaving his present position. 

On May 1, 1983, a member of the committee reported to the deacons 
that "there would be a business meeting of the church on May 22 to 
vote on the new minister, but the person wants to remain in his pres- 
ent position through June, take vacation in July, and be ready to 
begin at Pullen on August 15." 

On May 15, 1983, the chairman of the Search Committee mailed a 
letter to the congregation notifying them of the plans for a visit by the 
prospective minister and his family on the week-end of May 20-22 and 
calling for a church conference on Sunday evening, May 22, to vote 
on calling the new minister. The following official recommendation 
from the committee was enclosed: 

M. Mahan Siler is a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, who was educated 
in public schools, Baylor School, Vanderbilt University, University of 
Edinburgh, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He grew 
up in the First Baptist Church, Knoxville. Mahan is married to Janice 
Edwards of Wilmington, and they have four children: Jeannine, Mar- 
shall, Julia, and Mark. 

Since 1977 Mahan has been Director, School of Pastoral Care, North 
Carolina Baptist Hospital, Winston-Salem, and for 3 1/2 years prior to 
that was a member of the staff of the department with responsibilities 
for the educational needs of the department. His pastoral experiences 
include two years at Coffee Creek Baptist Church, a 250 member con- 
gregation of the American Baptist Churches; three years as pastor of an 
80 member mission church in a lower income section of Louisville, 
Kentucky; three years as assistant pastor of the 2000+ member Crescent 
Hill Baptist Church, Louisville; and five years as pastor of the 700 
member Ravensworth Baptist Church, Annandale, Virginia. In North 
Carolina Mahan has been active developing pastoral counseling centers, 
providing special counselors for ministers and their families. He was 
chairman of the commission on the ministry which made its report to 
the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in 1981. 

Janice met Mahan when they were both students at Southern Seminary, 
Louisville. They have walked together for twenty-five years, yet they 


have also learned the benefits of walking as individuals. Currently Jan- 
ice is working on a master's degree as an external student of Goddard 
College. She plans to continue to work as a marriage and family coun- 
selor. She has shared leadership roles with Mahan in many counseling 
and marriage enrichment seminars. On two occasions they have been 
sent to Japan by the Foreign Mission Board, Southern Baptist Conven- 
tion, to provide resources for missionaries there. Together they will 
publish (Broadman, 1984) a book on teaching values to children. 

Jeannine, who graduated from Chapel Hill last week, is one of ten 
North Carolinians appointed to the Journeyman program of the For- 
eign Mission Board. After training this summer she will go to Japan for 
two years. Marshall is a junior business and economics student at North 
Carolina States University. Mark and Julia are rising juniors in high 

Mahan Siler's sense of his most important contributions to his present 
position points to the skills he will bring to Pullen: 

1. a climate of trust and high participation 

2. pastoral care 

3. leadership through goal setting, envisioning the future, communi- 
cation and conflict resolution 

The members of the Ministerial Search Committee unanimously recom- 
mend to Pullen Memorial Baptist Church that M. Mahan Siler be called 
to become the senior minister of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church with 
his duties to begin August 15, 1983, at an annual compensation rate of 
$40,729 including benefits. A copy of the proposed covenant to be 
signed by elected representatives of the church and the minister upon 
extension and acceptance of the call can be examined in the church 

During the week-end a large percentage of the congregation had 
some contact with the Silers. On Friday evening Siler and his family 
met for supper with the Search Committee, the Board of Deacons, the 
Busines Board, the Board of Education, the Board of Trustees, the 
Church Council, the Personnel Board, and their spouses. On Saturday 
morning there was a coffee in the church parlor to which all members 
of the church were invited to meet the Silers. There was a cookout for 
the young people on Saturday evening and an ice cream social on 
Saturday night for all church members. Siler preached at the morning 
worship service on Sunday, and there was a reception following the 
service. At the Sunday evening conference the vote to call Siler was 

For the next issue of Pullenews Siler wrote: 

I accept your invitation to be your pastor with excitement and anticipa- 
tion. Janice, Jeannine, Marshall, Julia and Mark join me in these 


It has been said that a wise person is one who knows what time it is in 
his or her life. "What time it is in the life of Pullen?" has been a ques- 
tion you have been raising over these past years. It's a question concern- 
ing my own life I have been addressing as well. I have been assessing 
how my particular set of gifts and experience might best be utilized 
during the coming years. Gradually it began to feel "timely", by the 
Search Committee and us, that we join you in your ongoing life 
together and ministry. Last weekend seemed to confirm, on your part 
and ours, the "Tightness" of the decision. We appreciate all who made 
possible the experience of the weekend. 

I'm not one to use glibly the phrase "God's will". Most of us have 
experienced the abuse of those words. More is laid at the feet of God 
than is usually deserved. Yet, I pray that our mutual decision is God's 
will — in the sense that our common humanity, our partnership in min- 
istry will lead to vibrant expressions of our Lord's spirit of love and 
justice. I do sense among you and in myself a readiness, a "timeliness" 
for beginning a new era. I come with deep respect for who you are and 
who you have been. I look forward to coming alongside, anticipating 
what we can become together in the understanding and service. 

In the interim between Finlator's departure and Siler's arrival the 
church had the services not only of an interim pastor and an interim 
administrator but also of an interim worker with young people. Fol- 
lowing Sue McDaniel's resignation, only a few months after Finla- 
tor's retirement, the church employed Janice Patty to work with the 
youth. A native of Greensboro, Patty was a graduate of Meredith Col- 
lege and at the time of her employment was a student at Southeastern 
Baptist Theological Seminary. Pullen ordained Patty on Sunday, 
June 26, 1983. 

Janice Patty 
Minister of Education 1983- 


While Patty was working with the young people, the church recog- 
nized the need for someone to minister to college students. Nancy 
Howell, a student at Southeastern Seminary, was employed part-time 
for that responsibility. A graduate of the College of William and Mary 
and of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, she was currently 
working on a graduate degree at Southeastern. 

With Patty and Howell working together, the young people's pro- 
gram was functioning well. At the end of the academic year Howell 
left to do graduate work elsewhere. Patty, who had completed her 
work at Southeastern, accepted an extended contract with an ex- 
panded responsibility. She was given the title, "Associate Minister in 
Christian Education," and was to be responsible for both student 
ministry and youth ministry. She was to work thirty hours per week 
and it was understood that she could continue her theological educa- 
tion by taking "Clinical Pastoral Education" and by taking addi- 
tional courses at Duke Divinity School. The proposal stated as the 
advantage for Pullen in this arrangement: 

The availability of the continuation of Janice's ministry and at the 
same time incorporating the momentum begun under the leadership of 
Nancy Howell in serving students. This also gives Pullen the opportun- 
ity during the spring of '85 to look at staff needs in regard to overall 
church ministry. 

As scheduled, Mahan Siler began his work as Senior Minister at 
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church on August 15, 1983. He preached his 
first sermon as pastor on Sunday, August 21. Using Mark 14:1-9 as his 
text, he spoke on the subject, "An Act of Gratitude." In that sermon 
he said: 

I'm wondering with you this morning — what's the essential fire around 
which we huddle for survival, for life as a church? How would we des- 
cribe that motivational flame that must not go out? What best fuels our 
ministry of Christ together? 

My answer? Our sense of being gmced. The essential awareness, it seems 
to me, is that we are a gifted people. I don't mean talented, though we 
are certainly full of talent. We are gifted. We regularly confess here that 
we are not self made persons. We are the product of the gifts of many 
others and the Other. We love because were were first loved. We live 
because life is given. It's a gift, not our creation. The fire of life and 
love is not stolen from the gods as Greek mythology would present it; 
the creative fire of life and love is given by God the Creator, freely 
given, given through mother, father, sister, brother, teacher, friend, son, 
and daughter and the many others through whom the gift of caring 
affirmation touches us. 

Siler considered this sermon a pace-setter, outlining the kind of min- 
istry he envisioned. Writing about it in Pullenews for August 23 he 


Also, we are making available copies of the sermon I delivered last Sun- 
day. I'm doing this in the interest of dialogue. During these next 
number of Sundays I plan to preach on themes related to the ministry 
of our church. I want them to stimulate your own perceptions and con- 
victions, leading, I hope, to discussions among us. 

Titles of the sermons preached during the next two months give 
further clue to what Pullen might expect as pulpit emphases: "The 
Church: A Place of Summons and Support," "Not by Bread Alone," 
"The Church's Ministry: Promise and Partners of Liberation," "The 
Audacity of Ministry," "A Story to Be," "Reframing Your Past," 
"Church's Ministry: A Place for Children Only," "Church's Ministry: 
A Place to Worship," and "Living Reminders." 

Siler attended his first meeting with the deacons on September 4 
and heard a discussion of plans for his formal installation, to be held 
on Sunday, September 18. He heard a report on the up-coming dea- 
cons' retreat, a report from the church council, a report from the 
church treasurer, and a report from the communion committee. He 
had the opportunity to talk with the deacons about how he was 
beginning his work. Although there was an air of excitement about 
the future, there was also an air of "business as usual." 

The installation service was held at 3:00 P.M. on Sunday, Sep- 
tember 18, 1983. The address was delivered by Dr. Wayne Oates, of 
Louisville, Kentucky. Oates, a teacher and long-time friend of Siler's, 
was a pioneer in the field of education for pastoral care. Special music 
included an organ and trumpet prelude with Michael Arrowood and 
Tom Funk, followed by the processional, Ralph Vaughan Williams' 
arrangement of "All People That on Earth Do Dwell." The choir 
sang both "Jubilate Deo," composed for that service by Pat Elliott, 
and Warren Martin's "Anthem of Dedication." James Rochelle sang 
the prayer of St. Francis, "Lord, Make Us Instruments of Thy Peace." 
Other participants in the service were Carter Williams, John Steely, 
Donna Forester, Libby Gourley, and Mary Ruth Crook. 

Once he had been settled into his new situation Siler began to try to 
get to know the congregation and to understand better the direction 
which the congregation wished to take. Working through the Area 
Ministry network, he met with the members of the congregation in 
small groups to get their "views and feelings" about Pullen. In prepa- 
ration for those discussions he asked the congregation to think about 
two questions: "What do you appreciate about Pullen's ministry? 
What needs would you like to see more effectively addressed?" In the 
sessions Siler encouraged all those present to express themselves, and 
in the process he discovered how varied are Pullen people and how 
broad are their concerns. 

In Pullenews for October 2, 1983, Siler announced his plans for his 
daily and weekly schedule: 


First, I want you to know of my basic schedule. Generally, I study and 
prepare for worship leadership in the mornings. Between 11:00 and 
12:00 I try to be in the office to receive and return telephone calls. The 
afternoons and often evenings are spent in meetings, pastoral conversa- 
tions and visitation. Mondays are my Sabbath. Nancy Littlefield, our 
able administrative secretary, generally knows where I am and how I 
can be reached for emergencies. 

Siler was not long in beginning some new projects which were 
characteristic of his own ministerial emphasis. Pullenews for October 
4, 1983, announced a marriage "Information Night." The announce- 
ment stated, "We invite any married couples who would like to make 
their marriage stronger and more meaningful to an 'Information 
Night' for Baptist Expression of Marriage Encounter." The same 
issue of Pullenews carried an announcement about the worship 

One of the challenges of worship leadership is to design a service of 
worship that has in mind all ages. In the near future we want to plan 
ways through which the younger people can become more involved — 
both in leadership and participation. During next Sunday's service the 
children in grades 1-6 will be invited forward for a time of sharing 
specifically designed for them. Would you who are parents of these 
children help us by alerting them of this special time for them? I appre- 
ciate your cooperation. 

The October 17 issue of Pullenews carried a note addressed to "Semi- 
narians and students" inviting them "to the Silers' home . . . for a 
light lunch and conversation" immediately following the morning 
worship on October 23. In the October 31 issue Siler announced: 

For close to ten years now I have directed a journal writing experience 
during Advent season called Journey into Advent. I invite any of you to 
join me on Thursdays, December 1, 8, 15, 22, from 12:00-1:15 at the 
church. If there is sufficient interest another group can meet with me 
from 5:45-7:00 on the same days. 

This weekly series will offer the opportunity to interact autobiographi- 
cally with the coming of Jesus. The meaning of his birth will serve to 
stimulate the further meaning of our own lives. Participants will be 
encouraged to make use of journals for private reflections upon selected 
scripture. The event is designed to be a reflective, devotional experience 
that will further personalize the deeper meaning of Christmas. 

When Mahan Siler came to Pullen he found a church with a dis- 
tinctive worship service. Since the days of McNeill Poteat the service 
had demanded that the congregation be involved both intellectually 
and emotionally in what was done. The congregation voiced as their 
own the prayers and the affirmations that have been used by the 
church through the centuries, and they did the same with the words of 
great spirits of the twentieth century. They sang the great hymns and 
they heard great music from the choir. They became accustomed to 


the eleven o'clock hour not just as "preaching" but as a worship 

Yet the church also stressed the importance of preaching. Siler fol- 
lowed in the footsteps of John Pullen and Jack Ellis and Lee Shep- 
pard and McNeill Poteat and Bill Finlator. He stood in a pulpit 
which had a tradition of thoughtful and forthright proclamation. He 
faced a congregation which expected to be challenged by what they 
heard from the pulpit. 

Siler found a church staff working efficiently and with dedication 
to the kind of church Pullen was trying to be. Gerry Cate, who had 
been Minister of Music since 1944, had helped McNeill Poteat develop 
Pullen's pattern of worship. She saw music as an integral part of wor- 
ship and insisted that a choir and a congregation should offer to God 
only the best. The Pullen choir, therefore, was well-known for the 
high quality of its music. Miss Cate enriched that quality by bringing 
into the choir some of her students, both from the white community 
and from the black. In that way she had integrated the church racially 
long before the congregation took official action to open its member- 
ship. Janice Patty, who had been employed in January to work with 
the young people, had been well-received and had established a pro- 
gram that was attractive and challenging. Nancy Littlefield, who 
became church secretary in September, 1982, was efficiently operating 
an office that was vital to almost all the organized activities of the 

Siler found a church structured with Boards and Committees whose 
members took their responsibilities seriously. Some dealt with regu- 
lar, and therefore, central activities of the church: matters having to 
do with the worship service, with fellowship activities, with business, 
with physical facilities. Others dealt with less common, and therefore 
more innovative, activities: new forms of outreach, of concern for 
social issues, of response to crises. Siler found a readiness to create 
new committees when the need became apparent, and to allow com- 
mittees to die when they had outlived their usefulness. He found a 
church using its organization rather than maintaining it. 

When Siler came to Pullen he found a congregation that was very 
much alive. He found a wide variety of people — business people, doc- 
tors, lawyers, writers, educators, social workers, secretaries, govern- 
ment employees, nurses, retired people, students, ministers, adminis- 
trators — expressing their faith in a variety of ways through the 
church. He found people of all ages and people in varying circum- 
stances in family life — all a part of the community of faith. He found 
them in Sunday school classes and in circles of the Women of the 
Church and in committees and on boards. He found them ministering 
to one another and reaching out into the community. He found them 


M. Mahan Siler 
Minister 1983- 


concerned with the inner life and with social reform. He found them 
worshipping and he found them questioning. He found them com- 
mitted to the cause of Christ and he found them uncertain about 
much that they were doing. He found a congregation of people like 
the man who said to Jesus, "I believe; help my unbelief" (Jn. 9:24). 
He found a congregation ready to move ahead with its mission. 

To help determine the direction which the church should take, 
Siler involved the deacons in careful consideration of matters hasic to 
the church. He led them in their first retreat after his arrival, held on 
October 21-22, 1983. The stated agenda was: 

— deeper interpersonal relationships between deacons and between 
deacons and pastor 

— clarify expectations and functions of deacon/pastor and their work- 
ing relationship 

— utilizing both data from "town meetings" and more current obser- 
vations, assess present and future directions for Pullen^s ministry 

— enjoy one another and the setting 

At the next meeting of the deacons he asked the chairman to appoint 
a committee "to spend some time with him thinking ahout this mis- 
sion." The committee was appointed, met regularly over a period of 
months, and by May had prepared a report which was to be the basis 
for further discussion. Some salient observations in that report offer at 
least a part of Pullen's agenda for the future: 

We noted that our reputation for involvement in ministry in the com- 
munity has not been matched by performance in many instances. Most 
of our involvement is through individual efforts with minimal group 
and church support. Our organizational structure is weighted towards 
our own needs as a congregation. . . . 

We next took a look at the nature of our own congregation. From this 
internal look we felt the need to have a study made of our internal 
organization. . . . 

Another concern within the organization was to strengthen the involve- 
ment and focus upon the children. . . . 

Again, looking internally, we noted the importance of new member 
assimilation during this time of transition. We also lifted the concern 
for the alienated member who is either on the periphery or has lost 
interest in the life of the congregation. 

Next we, as a committee, began to focus on the environment of Pullen. 
We raised the question — What are the current needs/changes of our 
community (local, national, international) and how would these affect 
our priorities of mission?. . . 

Next as a committee we wrestled with some of the theological/biblical 
concepts that should guide our selection of priorities. 


Although this report was prepared by a committee of the deacons, 
and was intended for the deacons, it had significant implications and 
possibilities for the church as a whole. The committee asked that "the 
deacons consider a way of involving the larger church in some refin- 
ing of our future priorities during the Winter/Spring of 1985." 

Pullen Memorial Baptist Church celebrated a "Homecoming" on 
Sunday, September 23, 1984. In his sermon on that day Mahan Siler, 
preaching on the subject of tradition, issued a challenge for Pullen 's 
future that was faithful to Pullen's past. He said: 

What a great time to be a Baptist congregation in the Free Church tra- 
dition. One contemporary Baptist congregation has spawned a network 
for peacemaking that now extends throughout the nation. Another 
Baptist congregation has initiated a similar network around the con- 
cern for world hunger. Is there a freer institution than Pullen? There 
are no binding ecclesiastical restrictions upon us. The freedom to be 
creative and courageous is awesome. And so are the responsibilities. 



"What's past is prologue.' 
— Shakespeare 

Because a prologue is an anticipatory statement, the Prologue 
to the history of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church belongs at the 
end of the book. Pullen's one-hundred year history is an antici- 
pation of things to come. The enduring ideals, the fixed com- 
mitments, and the confident hope which have characterized the 
church demand a continuing embodiment in a believing, wor- 
shipping, and working fellowship. That is the Pullen of the 
future because it has been the Pullen of the past. 

The ministers of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church will not 
have to demand a free pulpit; rather the church will demand of 
its ministers a courageous and forthright application of the gos- 
pel to the needs of the world — both personal and social. The 
ministers will not be the church's professional holy persons; 
rather they will be a part of "a kingdom of priests." The minis- 
ters will not be "hired" by the church; they will be "liberated" 
for the ministry of the Word. They will not be expected to min- 
ister only to the members of this congregation; they will be sup- 
ported by this congregation in their ministry in the world. They 
will not be expected to fit a mold or play a role; they will be 
expected to be men and women exercising their gifts in their 
own way. 

Pullen Memorial Baptist Church will not be a club for reli- 
gious people but a community of faith. The congregation will 
not be held together by their friendship with another but by the 
love of God. They will not be a people who come to enjoy the 
Sunday morning service but a people who present themselves in 
worship before God. They will not be a people who measure 
success by numbers but a people dedicated to making a differ- 
ence in the world. They will not be a people concerned with the 
survival of the church but a people committed to the ministry of 
the church. They will not be a people bound by the past but a 
people who draw strength from the past. They will not be a 
people who despair of the future but a people whose heritage 
offers hope. 

"Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet 
appear what we shall be." 

— 1 John 3:2 


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DEMC O 38-297